Femto Forum reaches membership century

The Femto Forum, the independent industry and operator association that supports femtocell deployment worldwide, has announced that is has reached 100 members. The body now boasts as members, all of the top five infrastructure vendors and 17 of the world’s top 20 operators covering more than 2.3 billion subscribers.

This continued momentum will enable the Forum to tackle the future challenges facing femtocells. In addition the Forum will continue driving femtocell standards to wider application, including other air interface technologies such as LTE and WiMAX, as well as exploring new enterprise focused models.

Now that the 3GPP has committed to completing the WCDMA femtocell standard by the end of March, the Forum will be working to ensure that devices from different vendors are fully interoperable, as well as supporting the 3GPP’s release 9 and its planned provision for IMS femtocells.

Finally, there will be a focus on developing ‘Home Zone services’, creating new mobile applications that take advantage of the presence capabilities of femtocells and the ability to easily connect mobile phone users to the home network and the web.

Last year the Forum’s goals were: to resolve issues surrounding integrating femtocells into core networks; creating a unified system for managing femtocells; responding to concerns regarding interference with the macro network; and finally explaining the ramifications of the technology to regulators and other industry associations. The Forum made substantial progress in all of these areas.

Key achievements include: analysis proving that femtocells do not significantly interfere with the macro network; support for the development of the 3GPP WCDMA femtocell standard; agreement on the TR-069 protocol for femtocell management; a comprehensive outreach program to regulators around the world; and alliances made with 3GPP, 3GPP2, Broadband Forum, GSMA and NGMN Alliance.

Simon Saunders of the Forum stated: “The Forum was launched just 18 months ago with only seven specialist femtocell members and has since multiplied rapidly to over 100 companies which read like a Who’s Who of the industry. This momentum allows us to continue to overcome barriers as operators carry out advanced consumer trials and early deployments this year ahead of mass deployment in 2010. At the beginning of 2008 we set ourselves some tough challenges – not least turning around a femtocell standard in record time. We’ve no intention of slowing down this year, which will be a critical period as operators start deployments.”

The forum welcomes new members who are already active in the working groups, including: Alpha Networks Inc., Askey Computer Corp, Belgacom, Bell Mobility, BitWave Semiconductor, China Mobile, Chunghwa Telecom, L&T Infotech, LG-Nortel, Lime Microsystems, Panasonic Mobile Communications, Powerwave Technologies, Rosum Corporation, Ruckus Wireless, Texas Instruments and SFR. With members ranging from vendors of radio and silicon component, to devices and software through to management and gateways the Forum is able to effectively encapsulate the voice of the industry.