Tuesday 23 September 2008

NEC and Ubiquisys to help deploy first IMS based Femtocell Solution

Japanese operator SoftBank is to score a world first in January, when it becomes the first service provider to launch 3G femtocells in a commercial capacity.

SoftBank, Japan's third placed carrier behind NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, said it will offer 3G femtos from January 2009 using kit from UK-based Ubiquisys and a supporting IMS core from NEC.

According to Unstrung:

Japan's Softbank Mobile Corp. is still trying to get the national regulator to change a quirky policy that could thwart its plan for a large-scale femtocell deployment, according to an industry source. In Japan, only a qualified engineer can install a base station, and that rule applies to the small, low-power base stations, too.

Femtocells are supposed to be "zero touch" and easily installed by the users themselves. So, a regulation that mandates sending out an engineer to plug in each and every home access point would kill an operator's femto business case.

The Japanese policy is expected to be changed by the end of the year, which wouldn’t be too soon for Softbank. According to our source, the operator has already installed 20,000 devices, has chosen an NEC Corp. solution -- which uses Ubiquisys Ltd's femtocell -- and is also checking out equipment from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. Softbank isn't quite ready for a mass market deployment because there are still some technical issues, according to the industry source.

Meantime, NTT DoCoMo Inc. said last week that it was going to use the new HSPA version of Mitsubishi Corp. femtocell for its Home Area service.

There have been couple of so called Femtocell launches already namely T-Mobile Hotspot@ and Sprints CDMA Femtocell but they are not really Femtocells because they just provide an extension for voice services and no other type of services.

The Femtocells are called ZAPs (Zonegate Access Points) and Japanese customers will be able to get their hands on them from Jan 2009.

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