Tuesday 6 January 2009

2008 Femtocells Roundup

Think Femtocell has a good review of Femtocell activities and progress in 2008. Some interesting highlights:
  • Didn’t meet expectations given by some of the more enthusiastic commentators, but overachieved on many industry expectations.
  • Several vendors have commercially applicable products, others are rapidly catching up.
  • The early commercial launches of 2G CDMA femtocells in the USA appear to have gone reasonably well.
  • The Femto Forum has done well to ensure that the industry enters the standards meetings with one voice.
    • There remain two architecture options – one directly compatible with todays 3G GSM/UMTS core network and services
    • the other targeting the future IMS/SIP based solution
  • The first is now effectively completed within 3GPP Release 8, although interoperability between femtocell vendors will need testing and clarification before entirely complete.
  • Operators have set very demanding price points, which won’t be achieved until volumes dramatically increase. Prices for complete units are said to be below $200 already, with the target $100 achievable within 18 months
  • The primary competitor for femtocells is WiFi, specifically the UMA standard which can handover calls between 2G/3G and WiFi. UMA requires special handsets, which until recently have been fairly limited and restricted to 2G. Although its been around for a few years, it seems only the last year that we’ve seen more and more handsets with WiFi appear – and low power WiFi at that.

Predictions for 2009

  • Commercial launches, more in the second half of 2009
  • SIP/IMS femtocell architecture adopted in US and Japan
  • 3GPP standards incorporate SIP/IMS femtocell protocols in Release 9
  • “Over the top” WiFi-style services, such as Fring and TruPhone, will become more popular – driven by greater focus on cost cutting and improved 3G data rates/quality.
  • LTE femtocells won’t become reality until at least 2011, operators will continue to prepare and roll out initially using traditional macrocellular basestations.

Read the complete article here.

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