The worst kept secret in wireless communications is
that smartphones are the mobile operator’s opiate.  While subscribers flock to networks offering their phone of choice and churn to new phone releases in numbers never before seen, smartphones have already increased network traffic by one order of magnitude and are in the process of doing it again.  Operators around the world are addicted to smartphone user revenues, but can’t afford to pay for the network expansion needed to support smartphone applications and services.  While WiFi has become the detox of choice - it gets stationary data users off cellular access points - rehabilitation from the effects of smartphone addiction requires a new type of access point that can service both voice and data for both stationary and mobile connections.

In 2010, over 55% of cellular connections - data as well as voice - in the US were made from the home.  Not a surprise as 3G and 4G data rates put DSL service speeds in the rear view mirror, and over one-third of the landline connections in the US have been dropped for home voice service over cellular.

Enter the “femtocell”.  Conceived as a miniature cellular base station in the home, it provides access to cellular radio signals while utilizing the home’s broadband Internet service as the connection to cellular call management services.  In their third year of mass deployment, femtocells are rapidly becoming a major asset in the mobile operator’s war against spiraling network costs.

As an extension of the cellular network, the femtocell faces the difficult challenge of maintaining time synchronization with the cellular network at a hardware cost level appropriate for a consumer electronics device.  Maintaining time synchronization with the cellular network over the sometimes-miles-long connections on the Internet requires a high-quality timing reference.  In a bill of materials target of $50, there’s not much room for a high-cost solution to a high-performance reference oscillator requirement.

Glacier Microelectronics’ AnyFrequency™ synthesizer products uniquely service the stringent performance and cost demands of femtocells.  Glacier’s small die size - 20-25% of the area of its competitors’ chips - drives cost while the company’s proprietary high-speed analog circuit technologies deliver the signal phase jitter performance needed for maintaining synchronization with the cellular network.

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