Netgear plugs 3G into home networks

Netgear is to develop broadband routers with integrated support for VoIP and 3G telephony.

The network hardware company has announced a partnership with femtocell technology specialist Ubiquisys.

Ubiquisys’ ZoneGate femtocell is a “plug-and-play” 3G access point that uses a mobile subscriber’s xDSL broadband connection to transport voice and data calls via the internet instead of the more expensive cellular networks.

Femtocell is a catch-all term that describes an access point or base station that incorporates telecommunications components and infrastructure. It adds technologies such as 3G to home networks in the same way that Wi-Fi has been introduced over the past few years.

Netgear says the technology is a natural progression in home networking. “Consumer demand is rising for high quality, seamless and easy-to-use solutions that enable new applications such as fixed mobile convergence,” says David James, Netgear’s director of service provider products. “Not only will this solution enable mobile operators to provide enhanced cellular coverage in the home, but it will also make it possible for consumers to access and control a range of home networking services via standard 3G phone handsets.”

A recent study by ABI Research forecasts that by 2012 there will be 152 million users of femtocell products on 36 million access points worldwide.

Netgear plans to begin operator testing by the last quarter of 2007, with the first units shipping in early 2008.

Rival companies such as Ericsson and Motorola are already developing their own femtocell products.

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