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WiFi Hotspots will be Small Cells in Mobile Broadband Networks by 2015

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Report Summary:

The last month has seen a dramatic change in the role of WiFi for mobile operators.

- On February 15th Alcatel Lucent added WiFi to its lightRadio™ Femtocell and Metrocell systems.

- On February 21st. Ericsson announced the acquisition of BelAir Networks to add carrier grade WiFi as an element in its 3GPP compliant heterogeneous networks (HetNets).

- On February 23rd. the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) announced the successful completion of Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) trials with eleven operators - AT&T, BT, China Mobile, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, PCCW, Portugal Telecom, Smart Communications, Swisscom, TeliaSonera and True.

- On February 28th. at Mobile World Congress Cisco announced the industry's first standards based 'Small Cell' NGH Solution with strong industry support. And PCCW promptly announced its first commercial deployment in Hong Kong.

WiFi has transitioned from a useful unlicensed wireless option for ‘offloading’ excess mobile video traffic to an intelligent, managed network where subscribers can roam securely. Over the next few years we expect an increasing number of operators to embrace WiFi as part of their LTE network deployment strategy; and to incorporate it fully into their 3G and 4G traffic calculations. We expect WiFi to become a fully integrated part of small cell networking and HetNet design by 2015.

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