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Big business in small cells

Femtocells – small cellular base stations designed for use in residential or corporate environments – are likely to be adopted by operators with great enthusiasm, analysts say.

Aside from greater network efficiency and better in-building wireless coverage, femtocells are seen as an opportunity to reduce churn and to build new data and fixed mobile convergence platforms.

Industry analyst ABI Research forecasts that by 2011 there will be 102 million users of femtocell products on 32 million access points worldwide.

Principal analyst Stuart Carlawm said, “femtocells offer many benefits to operators. From a technological standpoint, their better in-building coverage for technologies such as WCDMA and HSDPA is an incredibly important aspect of service delivery. From a strategic and financial standpoint, the routing of traffic through the IP network significantly enhances network quality and capacity, and reduces the OPEX that carriers expend on backhaul.

On a conceptual basis, femtocells allow carriers to price cellular data services in the home aggressively, with the ultimate goal of shaping consumer behaviour”.

Femtocells are likely to form the basis of a viable option for realising converged fixed-mobile services, giving operators a cost-effective way to support fixed-mobile substitution as well as a consumer platform for the delivery of features such as wi-fi and IPTV.


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