Femtocells have been making waves in the cellular industry for some time now and were high on the agenda at this year’s mobile event in Barcelona. But proponents of the technology are in Amsterdam this week to raise awareness of the technology’s potential for WiMAX operators.

Speaking at the Global Congress’ free seminar programme, Simon Saunders, chairman of the Femto Forum, will say that femtocells will make an attractive proposition to the WiMAX community.

“Femtocells have a lot to offer any wireless standard, as long as the technology allows for their integration,” Saunders told telecoms.com in advance of his presentation entitled ‘Driving harmonisation in the femtocell markeplace’, “Femtos are technologically agnostic and the interface we’ve developed is just as applicable to WiMAX as it is to cellular, the integration process is all on the same general approach.”

The Femto Forum recently agreed on a single definition for the so called Fa interface, allowing a multivendor approach to femtocell infrastructure deployments. Wherever possible, the technology would build on available and recognised industry standards as well as synthesising existing solutions to create a best of breed technology.

The Forum has also been accepted as a Market Representation Partner (MRP), tasked with holding discourse with key industry standards bodies including the 3GPP and 3GPP2 as well as developing cooperation agreements with the DSL forum, the GSMA, and more recently, the WiMAX Forum.

“The big build programs have yet to arrive in the WiMAX industry, which puts operators in an ideal position for considering how to factor in the benefits femtocells ahead of deployment time,” Saunders said. The Forum chairman notes that femtocells are seen as being focused on domestic implementations, but he argues that WiMAX has a lot to offer businesses too, which in turn generates an opportunity for femtos where wifi doesn’t offer the necessary quality of service.

“Because the majority of WiMAX deployments are in the 2.5GHz to 5.8GHz bands, they will require extra infrastructure needed to provide good in building coverage, but femtocells could help alleviate that pressure,” said Saunders, noting that a lot of newcomers, or second operators in any given territory are interested in WiMAX and in femtocells.

“There is not yet a high degree of awareness of femtocells in the WiMAX community,” Saunders said. “But we have reached a stage of recognition in the WiMAX world and can help WiMAX operators move quickly forward with a standards-based approach.”