Standards compliance took a step closer to reality today when a group of vendors announced they have developed a system which complies with the recently issued 3GPP Release 8 standards. Specifically, this includes the Iuh interface which connects between femtocell gateways and femtocall access points, allowing operators to buy from multiple vendors.
Three companies jointly develop demonstration of 3GPP Release 8 compliance
Starent (who make Femtocell Gateways), Continuous Computing (who provide software stacks and integration services for femtocell vendors and picoChip (who provide the underlying hardware chipset), jointly announced they have built a Release 8 compliant which fully conforms to the Iuh standard. This relates to the popular 3G UMTS standard used by GSM networks around the world.
Since these vendors supply the underlying hardware and software for several femtocell equipment vendors, it's an imporant step towards full commercially available products which compy with the standard.
This group of companies plan to show off their achievement at next week's Femtocell World Summit, with a live demonstration at the event.
LTE Release 8 Femtocell software also available which meets Release 8 standards
Those working on the other main component of Release 8, namely the new 4th generation LTE standard, have also been productive. Nomor, a German software company which develops only LTE software stacks suitable for femtocells, announced their stack was compliant as quickly as the end of April.
No doubt it will be a little while before we can truly mix and match femtocells and femtocell gateways within the same network. The availability of a fully compliant femtocell gateway and underlying software is clearly a major step towards this goal.
My guess is that this can easily be achieved before the end of 2009. Some of the early commercial launches may choose to work with pre-standards/proprietary versions, which would migrate to standards compliance in their next release.