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23 June, 2011 - 12:56 By News Desk

ip.access wins Femto Forum award

ip.access CEO, Simon Brown

Cambridge company, ip.access has scooped a major award with innovative technology launched less than a week earlier.

It won the Femto Forum ‘Femtocell network element design and technology innovation Award’ for one of its new products, OysterCatcher.

The lead judges for the category said: “With femtocell deployments already extending into the hundreds of thousands – and in the future millions – automated performance management and fault diagnostics isn’t just important, it’s critical. ip.access is leading the way in this space by allowing operators to intelligently examine live data to improve their services.”

Business Weekly showcased OysterCatcher on June 16 when we also revealed that the company was recruiting 15 new hires in Cambridge and others globally, with business in India and the US gathering momentum.

OysterCatcher is a new diagnostic solution that enables mobile operators to optimise radio performance in large scale deployments of ip.access femtocells. It fine-tunes femtocell radio configurations, complementing the femtocell’s ability to adapt automatically to its local radio environment and to minimise interference with the surrounding macro network.

The technology is already at the heart of the world’s largest deployment of consumer femtocells with AT&T in the US.

The new tool finds and diagnoses radio issues for individual femtocells in particularly challenging radio environments, where automated techniques alone are insufficient to deliver optimal performance. These ‘edge-case’ scenarios may be insignificant in smaller femtocell deployments but they can no longer be ignored when hundreds of thousands of femtocells are deployed in the network.

The OysterCatcher solution consists of probe software in the femtocell Access Point (AP) and server-side diagnostic tools. The probe software intelligently captures and uploads just the relevant diagnostic data from individual APs to a server-side database, which provides analytical tools for radio experts to diagnose and fix performance issues.

As well as enabling field issues to be fixed rapidly, OysterCatcher also provides key data for enhancing the algorithms used by the AP to manage radio resources and optimise performance automatically, aiding the development of true Self Organising and adaptive networks of femtocells.

CEO Simon Brown said: “It’s important to remember that femtocell network performance is constantly evolving. For example, upgrades to handset firmware or changes to the macro network can all affect femtocell performance, which means that the job of diagnosing and improving the performance of the femto layer in the network is a continuous one – it’s not simply a question of optimising once and leaving the network to run by itself.

“Real-world data from OysterCatcher improves our algorithms for managing radio resources and selecting parameters to optimise Key Performance Indicators, such as speech quality and call drop rate. These algorithms work much more effectively than those based only on theory or simulation. The earliest adopters of new technology tend to be pretty tolerant, but we are now moving rapidly towards mass market adoption and OysterCatcher can help operators ensure that consumers get the best possible service from their femtocells.”

Andy Tiller, SVP Product Strategy & Marketing at ip.access said: “OysterCatcher is a highly innovative solution to the real-world problem of scaling femtocell deployments into the millions.  Solving this has taken a lot of hard work, culminating in the development of our OysterCatcher technology.  We’re delighted that this achievement has been acknowledged by the Femtocell Industry Awards panel of expert judges – all of whom are knowledgeable independent analysts who understand the technical challenges of the market we’re working in.”ip.access has grown substantially from its Cambridge platform. Its new venture in India is up to speed staff-wise after a 50-strong fast-track recruitment programme. It is currently recruiting 20 other staff, 15 in Cambridge.

Its partnership with AT&T in the States is booming in terms of install volume and will provide a useful yardstick for the rest of the world. There is also plenty of headroom regarding both technology upgrades to leverage opportunities from LTE and 4G  – and in terms of markets.

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