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Femtocells - a few hurdles to consider

by User Not Found | Jul 20, 2007

SA analysts have been holding heated discussions on the potential of femtocells, an excellent example of a technology that has strategic implications across the traditional boundaries: mobile, fixed, home gateways, semiconductors, not to say mobile phones, of course. For background, femtocell is a very low power cellular transmitter designed for in-building use, and intended primarily to improve mobile phone coverage where signal reception is usually weak. Interest has been growing rapidly over the last year or so as we head towards the first commercial deployments, or so we are told. The main issue for me is what sort of company benefits from mass deployments of this technology. Technology vendors, naturally enough, can only see the upside. But what type of service provider or operator does it benefit? Mobile operators clearly wish to improve the customer experience, and potentially make savings on network costs by using a subscriber's home broadband connection for voice backhaul. But how does the broadband provider feel about this? In some cases it might be the same company, but even though there is much talk about multi-play and mobile/fixed convergence, the reality is that most home users (in the US/Europe context) do not currently buy mobile and broadband service from the same company. Multi-play adoption will grow, I have little doubt. And femtocell may be a way of persuading customers that a combined mobile/broadband service has benefits. But they could also create tension between mobile and broadband providers that are not tied in some way (the net neutrality debate comes to mind). And we suspect there are still a number of technical and regulatory challenges to overcome before large scale deployments are seen. Certainly some of the industry forecasts floating around at the moment seem to be wildly optimistic. Add to Technorati Favorites
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