With Picochip, Mindspeed buys big into a small market

Networking silicon vendor Mindspeed aims to become a big player in wireless infrastructure in a very small way. It is purchasing femtocell system-on-a-chip (SoC) maker Picochip for $51.8 million, creating what Mindspeed hopes will be a powerhouse in the so-far disappointing miniature base station market.

Opportunities still exist for femtocells

Residential femtocell sales continue to lag due to overpriced hardware and the widespread adoption of Wi-Fi in the home. But opportunities still exist for femtocells in the enterprise and as a crucial component of carriers’ overall mobile networks.

Femtocells Get Out of Our Homes and Into Our Cities

Picochip today said it has released a chip that will enable mobile operators to place small base stations known as femtocells anywhere, bringing them out of the home environment and into public areas. This is good for carriers, but it may be bad news for consumers.

picoChip Gets a $20M Boost for Femtocells

picoChip, maker of semiconductors for femtocells, has raised $20 million in funding, bringing its total venture capital raised to $110 million. I wrote earlier this month that PicoChip’s latest silicon could finally create an opportunity for femtocells to gain real adoption. Its investors must agree.

Picochip Gives Femtocells a New Lease on Life

Picochip has built a chip that can support far more mobile users on a femtocell, and help carriers handle the problem of chatty phones that overwhelm networks with movement notifications, push email, Twitter, etc. Maybe it will be just what femtocells need to finally take off.

Analyst: Femtocells Aren’t Dead Yet!

Here at GigaOM we’ve pretty much decided that the femtocell market is dead. At the very least, it’s significantly smaller than what was forecast (GigaOM Pro, subscription required) when these tiny base stations for the home first started garnering attention last year. However, analysts at Deutsche Bank beg to differ, arguing in a new report that femtocells will be necessary to deliver fat data over mobile broadband networks. It comes just days after Atlas Ventures, Highland Capital Partners and Pond Venture Partners put $20 million into PicoChip, a maker of femtocell silicon. Read More about Analyst: Femtocells Aren’t Dead Yet!

DesignArt Wants a Slice of the 4G Pie

The move to 4G will not be cheap. Carriers must consider network upgrade costs and a refresh of their handsets, not to mention the issue of backhaul. Will they attempt wireless backhaul? Wait for fiber? One way or another, by 2013 carriers worldwide will invest some $163.5 billion in capital expenditures, with much of that going to 4G data services, according to data out today from ABI Research.

In the meantime, carriers in developing countries will be spending about $131 billion on 2G and 3G upgrades this year, while carriers in mature markets will start throwing their money at 4G in 2009. By 2013, carriers will spend about 28 percent for voice, 67 percent for data, and 5 percent for mobile TV.

Israeli chip startup DesignArt hopes to cut those costs with a line of base station chips for carriers that, when used in a clustered network, can essentially create their own backhaul. Read More about DesignArt Wants a Slice of the 4G Pie