Femtos extend reach into WiMAX territory

The Femto Forum joined forces with the WiMAX Forum on Thursday, publishing the first standard designed to bring both networking technologies closer together.

Interested vendors will be able to start building compatible equipment based on the IEEE 802.16e radio interface and profiles immediately, with the WiMAX Forum expecting to begin certification of such devices in early 2011.

Essentially, WiMAX femtocells would cost-effectively enhance coverage and capacity inside buildings and in small outdoor areas, and could potentially allow large data loads to be offloaded to the fixed line.

The specifications incorporate a security framework that allows WiMAX networks to support a large number of access points via standard commercial IPSec based gateways as well as Self Organizing Network (SON) capabilities to allow automatic configuration of large numbers of femtocells. Future revisions will further enhance the SON capabilities to standardise automatic interference management between femtocells and macro base stations, the two forums said.

According to the announcement, the standard incorporates support for three usage models to cater for different deployment scenarios such as residential, enterprise and outdoor environments. The ‘Open Model’ allows the femtocell to operate like a normal WiMAX base station by allowing anyone to use the service; ‘Closed Subscriber Group (CSG) Closed’ allows a limited number of pre-allocated subscribers to use the femtocell, while the ‘Closed Subscriber Group (CSG) Open’ extends the previous model to allow the subscriber to add users themselves.

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