FEMTOCELL FUTURES

In the near future, ‘femtocells’ – small cellular base stations designed for use in residential or corporate environments – will be adopted by operators with great enthusiasm. An ABI Research study forecasts that by 2011 there will be 102m users of femtocell products on 32m access points worldwide.

Femtocells are basically like picocells but even smaller, designed for installation at the end of a broadband line and pitched at the $100-$300 level.
The appeal: greater network efficiency, reduced churn, and better in-building wireless coverage – plus the ability to shape subscriber data usage patterns and to build platforms upon which fixed-mobile convergence services can be realised. Or as principal analyst Stuart Carlaw put it. “Femtocells allow carriers to price cellular data services in the home aggressively, with the ultimate goal of shaping consumer behaviour” and “They give operators a cost-effective way to support fixed-mobile substitution, as well as a platform in the home upon which additional features such as WiFi and IPTV can be layered”.
Carlaw adds a note of caution:
“There is a pressing need for some standardisation, or at least a common recognition of what a femtocell’s minimum requirements should be.”