Low-cost femtocells could emerge as an attractive alternative to voice over Wi-Fi (VoFi) in future homes, according to Strategy Analytics, a global research and consulting firm. PicoChip has developed inexpensive baseband processors for very low-cost femtocell base stations that can be installed in the home. These femtocells have the potential to reduce the demand for cellphones that include Wi-Fi, which many in the cellphone industry believe will emerge in high volumes over the next several years to support the convergence of fixed and mobile communications.
Strategy Analytics believes that femtocells will attract wireless operators and consumers alike. However, the bill of materials for femtocells will have to fall close to that of cellphones that include Wi-Fi chipsets for femtocells to really take off.
The handset market shows that GaAs can compete against silicon technologies on cost, but the low transmit power of femtocells suggests that this market will probably use SiGe and LDMOS transistor-based PAs initially, eventually shifting to transceivers with on-chip CMOS PAs, Strategy Analytics notes.