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Femtocell tech maturing

Femtocells are moving from domestic to enterprise deployments

Femtocell technology is experiencing the first signs of maturity, with several tier one operators deploying the technology using a variety of business models.

At present there are nine commercial launches of femto technology worldwide and several ongoing trials, while completed trials are now progressing into deployment plans for several mobile operators.

In the past few months, French operator SFR, Portuguese operator Optimus and Chinese operator China Unicom have commercially launched femtocell services, while Japan’s KDDI and France’s Free have also committed to the technology. Vodafone also relaunched its femto offering under the ‘Sure Signal’ brand, claiming considerable success in the UK which could spearhead the entrance of femtocell services into the European market.

“The femtocell market is undergoing rapid growth around the world with Asia, North America and Europe now having multiple deployments each. Global operator demand for femtocells is clearly undeniable. The reason for this is simple – femtocells allow operators to deliver enhanced coverage at home, leading to an improved user experience that would not be economically viable with traditional network upgrades,” said Dimitris Mavrakis, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

As a result of growing operator commitment to the technology, all Tier-1 equipment vendors have now committed to supporting open standards and are actively working on integrating femtocell gateways into their own offerings. A move Informa believes is clear evidence of the perceived potential of the market. There have also been advances in regulatory frameworks worldwide, with notable examples including the relaxation of regulations for femtocell installations in Japan and backing for femtocells to support mobile broadband capacity by the FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, in the US.

Informa expects the femtocell market to experience significant growth over the next few years, reaching just under 49 million femtocell access points in the market by 2014 and 114 million mobile users accessing mobile networks through femtocells during the same year. Femtocell unit sales are forecast to reach 25 million in 2014 alone, Informa said.

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