Showing posts with label Small Cells World Summit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Small Cells World Summit. Show all posts

Friday, 20 August 2010

Femtocells: Not merely for providing 3G without base stations

Interesting presentation from Argela



Argela, one of the leading global telecom solution providers, was an exhibitor, speaker and sponsor of the Femtocell World Summit in London which is billed to be the largest Femtocell focused event in the industry for 2010. In addition, Argela’s Femtocell Committee Advertising Application was shortlisted and recognized by the Femto Forum Awards Panel for its innovative application of the Femtocell technology.

During the event, Argela exhibited its Femtocell and Home Gateway products in addition to demonstrating its Femtocell Advertising Application. Oguz Oktay, VP of Sales, commented, “The Femtocell World Summit provides a venue for key players to discuss the latest developments in the Femtocell industry which is why we decided to be a sponsor of the event. Having our Femtocell Advertising Application shortlisted and recognized for its innovation was a very nice bonus for us. We have received a lot of interest in our Femtocell Advertising Application which provides yet another way for service providers to increase the return on their Femtocell investment.”

Argela’s Director of Technology and Research, Dr. Mustafa Ergen, was a speaker during the three day event and he presented how Femtocells are capable of going beyond just providing 3G services.

To download and view Dr. Ergen’s presentation, “Femtocells: Not Merely for Providing 3G without Base Stations,” please
click here.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Femtocells data cap and offload dilemma

I recently heard Prof. Simon Saunders (who has a much impressive background that i thought of) at Cambridge Wireless International conference speaking on Thinking Networks.

One of the things mentioned that struck me is how convenient it would be with femtocells to offload the data on the internet directly without going through the operators core. This would mean less data on the backhaul for the operators and since data would have to travel through less nodes, the speed and reliability could be higher.

There is a slight problem though. In the recently concluded Femtocells World Summit (which I have blogged a lot about), AT&T has been harping about its data caps while using Femto. AT&T wants that the Femto's should mainly be used for voice and for data the users should generally switch to using WiFi. Their reasoning is based on the fact that they are not allowed to perform data offload as mentioned above due to FCC regulations. In fact the same problem may be present in other countries and would hamper the Femto growth in time.

Femtocells are better for data usage as I have mentioned in past because they provide seamless coverage and better data security. It should also be pointed out that the battery drains faster when using WiFi as compared to the mobile Internet.

When a user uses Femtocell, he is already using his broadband data allowance and if there is additional restriction placed in terms of data caps on the Femtocell, the users may just revolt and avoid using Femtocells at all.

Voice coverage advantage is good but users may prefer to switch operators if its just voice that they are using Femtos for. While the use of fixed line phones have decreased in the past (thanks to voice bundles on mobile), some users are switching back to using landlines because of the voice clarity and no reception problems.

The Femto manufacturers and the operators will have to act fast if they want their future predictions to come true.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Femtocell Industry Award Winners 2010





Category 1: Residential femtocell access point design and technology innovation

Shortlists:
* Huawei - Huawei Home Media Centre
* Technicolor - TG872 Integrated Femtocell
* Ubiquisys - The G3-mini Femtocell from Ubiquisys/SerComm

Winner:
Huawei - Home Media Centre
“The residential market for femtocells is clearly the driver for attaining mass-market volumes, enabling improved coverage, data offload and new service opportunities. In order to gain traction and consumer acceptance, there need to be persuasive reasons for purchase - and also value-added features to protect against future churn. Huawei's Home Media Center includes a broad set of audiovisual capabilities such as video storage, on top of the femto module, which can help it attain a permanent role in a subscriber's home," agreed the judges.



Category 2: Greater femtocell design and technology innovation

Shortlists:
* SpiderCloud - SpiderCloud wireless enterprise radio access network (E-RAN): solving network operators’ network capacity and in-building coverage problems
* Ubiquisys - Ubiquisys Enterprise Femto Net Solution
* Ubiquisys - Colo-Node HSPA Metro Femtocell

Winner:
Ubiquisys - Colo-Node HSPA Metro Femtocell
“One of the areas of femtocell technology in which there is intense carrier interest is the metrozone, and the potential to make small outdoor cells part of an urban build-out. Ubiquisys has come up with a very early product for this much discussed market, an innovation that brings real world metro femtocells a big step closer to reality,” agreed the judges.


Category 3: Femtocell network element design and technology innovation

Shortlists:
* NEC - Femto-Share
* Nokia Siemens Networks - The most compact and integrated Femto Gateway commercially available
* Tatara - The Tatara Convergence Server Platform

Winner:
NEC - Femto-Share
“No different than in their macro-cell networks, operators are looking for ways to keep the cost of deploying a femtocell in check. While there was no shortage of impressive network innovations submitted for this year’s awards, NEC’s focus on costs combined with standards and scalability – particularly as operators look to launch services across markets – helped its FemtoShare and FemtoCloud offers to stand apart,” agreed the judges.


Category 4: Femtocell application concept

Shortlists:
* Airvana - Airvana’s ‘Femto Family Tablet’
* Argela - Argela's Femtocell Advertising Application
* Tatara - FemtoCloud services enabled by the Tatara Convergence Server Platform

Winner:
Airvana - ‘Femto Family Tablet’
“As the femtocell industry matures and commercial launches multiply, it is increasingly important to develop unique applications to help drive demand for femtocells. The Airvana Femto Family Tablet stands out as a compelling application that could deliver real value to both operators and end-users based on unique femtocell features such as presence," agreed the judges.


Category 5: Progress in commercial deployment

Shortlists:
* NEC - Commercial progress
* picoChip - picoXcell femtocell SoC family
* Ubiquisys - Commercially deployed by SoftBank Mobile and SFR

Winner:
picoChip - picoXcell femtocell SoC family
“picoChip's involvement in such a large portion of the commercial femtocell services today is a clear indication of progress in commercial deployment. The sheer volume of femtocell chips that the vendor has shipped is further evidence of commercial momentum in the market,” agreed the judges.


Category 6: Commercial launch

Shortlists:
* AT&T - AT&T 3G MicroCell National Deployment
* Sprint - Sprint Airave
* Vodafone - Vodafone Sure Signal

Winner:
AT&T - 3G MicroCell National Deployment
“AT&T’s 3G MicroCell deployment with Cisco caught the judges’ eyes for two crucial reasons. First and foremost, it emphasised the importance of the customer at the heart of the femtocell experience, positioning technology very much as an enabler, rather than an end in itself. Secondly, the deployment is on a national scale, which given the US market’s size adds an additional layer of complexity,” agreed the judges.


Category 7: Contribution to femtocell standards

Shortlists:
* Airvana - Airvana Standards Team led by Doug Knisely, VP of technology
* Alcatel Lucent - Martin Warner- A catalyst in driving 3GPP femtocell specifications
* Nokia Siemens Networks - Driver for open standards, in standard setting bodies and realization

Winner:
Airvana - Standards Team led by Doug Knisely, VP of technology
“There have been many outstanding contributions to femtocell standards and selecting one above another proved very difficult for the judges – indeed this was one of the closest categories of all. After much discussion the judges decided that they would prefer the spirit of this award to tend more towards clear individual contributions and on that basis the work of Doug Knisely stood out as being particularly important and demonstrating great dedication over extended periods. The femtocell industry is indeed in his debt,” agreed the judges.


Category 8: Enabling technology

Shortlists:
* Airvana - UMTS Femtocell Beacon
* Continuous Computing & picoChip - The world’s first LTE femtocell reference design
* picoChip - picoXcell™ PC323 - The complete next generation femtocell solution

Winner:
Continuous Computing & picoChip - The world’s first LTE femtocell reference design
“The Continuous Computing and picoChip LTE reference design is a great example of an enabling technology that is necessary to kick start development of LTE femtocells. The timing of this reference design is critical for the introduction of LTE femtocells as operators begin to rollout the first LTE networks. At the same time there is a growing understanding of the importance of multi-tier cellular architectures as we move from 3G to 4G and as networks begin to cope with user demand for capacity. The judges wanted to recognize the role of this crucial component in what is likely to become a necessary part of future 4G networks,” agreed the judges.


Category 9: Judges’ Choice

Shortlists:
* Alcatel Lucent - Wilson Street: Alcatel-Lucent’s wireless technology showcasing smallcells living and working with macrocells for the community of Wilson Street
* Ubiquisys - The World’s First Sub-$100 Femtocell - the G3-mini
* Vodafone - Vodafone Sure Signal

Winner:
Vodafone - Sure Signal
“While we in the industry have known about femtocells for many years, the wider public have been unaware of their existence and benefits. The Vodafone marketing campaign changed all that. In a well-crafted and multi-faceted campaign they showed consumers how they could achieve coverage in their home and changed the role and perception of cellular communications. They have done a great deal to advance the success of femtocells and fully deserve to be recognised for this,” agreed the judges.


Category 10: Individual contribution to Femto Forum activities

Shortlists:
* Joshua Adelson, Airvana
* Gibson Ang, GENBAND
* Gordon Mansfield, AT&T
* Mona Mustapha, Vodafone
* Clare Somerville, picoChip
* Fabio Chiussi, Airvana & Mark Walker, Ubiquisys

Winner:
Gordon Mansfield, AT&T
“The Femto Forum’s work is driven mainly by the efforts of individuals from within our member organisations. From an impressive shortlist, the judging panel selected Gordon Mansfield, Executive Director at AT&T, as the individual who has made the single biggest difference to the progress of the Forum. Gordon has been a major force in developing consensus positions among operators and other stakeholders on a range of femtocell related issues. He has been a regular contributor at Femto Forum plenaries and sponsored conferences, as well as being a tireless promoter of femtocells to the wireless industry as a whole by speaking in support of femtocells at numerous industry events. Besides his own time commitments he has worked to assign the right AT&T individuals to contribute in the working groups and SIGs of the Femto Forum. We are very pleased to be able to recognise his dedication to the worldwide acceptance of femtocell technology through this award,” said Simon Saunders, Chairman of the Femto Forum.


Category 11: Chairman’s award

Winner:
Karim Sharf, TraC
"Most of the Femto Forum’s work is driven by the efforts of individuals from within our member organisations and a huge number have contributed their time and skills to the Forum in the past year and all deserve my considerable thanks. However, one of our key goals we had in the last year was to make tangible progress towards our vision of an open, interoperable ecosystem for femtocells. To that end, in March we ran the first plugfest for UMTS femtocells, which was widely supported by over 20 vendors. Karim Sharf was instrumental in supporting and coordinating that process and his level of contribution to the Forum's aims has been outstanding,” said Simon Saunders, Chairman of the Femto Forum.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Round up of the Femtocells World Summit 2010

David Chambers of Think Femtocell has provided an excellent summary of the Femtocell World Summit 2010 that concluded today. Please follow the links below to read more:




If interested, you can check the complete programme here.

NTT DoCoMo for LTE Femtocells next year


Its been nearly couple of years since I blogged about starting LTE with femtocells initially and then moving onto Macro network. It had initial momentum but didnt take off for one reason or another. In the ongoing Femtocells World Summit, Yoshiyuki Yasuda, NTT DoCoMo's managing director said that they plan to roll out LTE Femtocells next year mainly to fill the coverage gaps in the LTE Network they will be rolling out later this year.

Those who read this blog regularly would have noticed my recent post about NTT DoCOMo's LTE initiatives here. I have also been promoting LTE femtocells idea as can be seen in my blogs here, here and here. My belief is that femtocells could be very valuable to iron out the problems present in devices, networks or the technology. Also they provide seamless coverage and offer better data security.

Light Reading has interesting analysis on this topic:

Which vendors can serve up the LTE femtos in time? NEC Corp., which is already one of DoCoMo's LTE vendors, has revealed plans for an LTE home base station that will be available for friendly user trials at the end of 2011, and a commercial product is expected in 2012.

Other vendors that are involved in DoCoMo's LTE rollout that could have a shot at meeting the carrier's next-gen femto demands are Fujitsu Ltd., Ericsson AB, and Nokia Siemens Networks, and Stoke Inc. , which supplies an LTE base station aggregation gateway to the Japanese operator.

DoCoMo's current femto vendor is Mitsubishi, which supplies little 3G home base stations to DoCoMo for its MyArea service that launched in November 2009.

DoCoMo's Yasuda said that when the carrier wants to deploy LTE femtos in the 2011-2012 timeframe, it will have deployed 1,500 LTE macrocell base stations during 2010 and 2011. By 2013, it plans to cover 30 percent of the population with LTE. By 2014, DoCoMo plans to cover 70 percent of the population with 15,000 LTE base stations.


Monday, 22 February 2010

Femtocells update from Mobile World Congress 2010


Among a host of announcements, the leading silicon supplier for this segment, picoChip, was working hard to maintain its headstart as Qualcomm and others gear up to enter the market. It announced no fewer than six new customers, many coming from the Taiwanese ecosystem that is so vital to the mass adoption and price competitiveness of any emerging consumer product.

The new customers are Alpha Networks, Argela, Askey, C&S Micro, Contela and Zyxel, all of which will use the UK firm's PC302 picoXcell system-on-chip for HSPA(+). This is designed to reduce cost and time to market for vendors, and now has over 20 adopters, including Vodafone's femto supplier Alcatel-Lucent, and AT&T's, Cisco/ip.access.

Meanwhile, the femto players are looking ahead to LTE, where there are many indications from operators that tiny cells will play a big part in the strategy. The devices will be used from day one by some carriers - to offload data from the macrocell or to provide indoor coverage in high frequencies like 2.6GHz. They could also add capacity to deployments in low frequencies like 700MHz and even be used as a starting point for greenfield providers, which could then add macro networks later, explained Simon Saunders, chair of the Femto Forum.

Continuous Computing has been eyeing the femto market for several years from its heartlands in protocol stacks, core networking and traffic shaping. At MWC, it worked with picoChip and Cavium Networks to show the first complete LTE femtocell reference design. Available immediately, this includes the LTE modem, RF and packet processors, protocol software, intelligent router functionality and a complete Evolved Packet Core (EPC) simulator.

"The demand for LTE femtocells is unquestionable. We are already seeing operators asking for small cell access points to start testing in the second half of this year. Femtocells represent the key to avoiding the difficulties surrounding the first 3G deployments where roll-outs cost too much, took too long and did not meet user expectations," said Mike Dagenais, CEO of Continuous.

The reference design used a picoChip modem, mezzanine RF card and PHY software; Cavium's Octeon Plus multicore processor; and Continuous' Trillium LTE Layer 2/3 protocols, eNodeB reference application and EPC emulator.



Call it network congestion, capacity crunch or data overload - the complaints aired at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week were all about cellphone network operators trying to find ways of profitably handling an explosion in mobile data traffic.

Management of the data traffic has become a priority for the telecoms industry as mobile internet usage is booming but data revenues for the phone companies grow slowly at best.

Research firm Informa forecasts a 50 per cent rise in mobile data traffic in 2010 on the back of the increasing popularity of devices such as the Apple iPhone and netbooks, but only a 13 percent rise in data revenues.

This has put added pressure on the phone companies to find ways of using fixed line networks including the internet to take some of the strain off the airwaves.

"Offloading is crucial for us," France Telecom -owned Orange's global head of mobile Olaf Swantee told Reuters ahead of the conference.

"In many countries where we have a fixed network we try to offload directly," he said.

The problem is that offloading data from wireless network to local hotspots still costs money, and operators are searching left and right for solutions that will not raise their overall capital spending, industry executives said.

"To address the smartphone challenge they are investing again," said Rajeev Suri, chief executive of joint venture equipment maker Nokia Siemens, who added that it was uncertain whether this spending was additional to or instead of other investment plans.

More certain was Bruce Brda, head of rival Motorola's networks business. "Carriers have been very consistent - they do not increase capex," he told Reuters.

Nevertheless Motorola saw better than expected demand late last year for equipment as some operators strengthened their existing networks to cope with surging data traffic, Brda said.

"In early 2010 I am seeing the same trend. The indication is there is incremental spending."

Equipment vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia Siemens and Alcatel-Lucent were also demonstrating new technology LTE equipment in Barcelona, as a route toward handling the data rush.

Operators are expected to spend billions of euros converting their networks to the Long Term Evolution standard, which will enable fast mobile broadband access for services such as watching movies on mobile phones, although some critics say LTE would prove a stopgap solution if data traffic goes on growing.

"LTE will buy a carrier two to three years of relief, but then it runs out," Brda said.

And analysts say telecom operators' sales in mature markets are not growing fast enough to justify major investments, which may mean an increase in demand instead for other technologies such as Wi-Fi or femtocells.

Femtocells are localized phone network base stations sited in homes and offices where signal strength might otherwise be weak, taking users onto the phone company's network via their own broadband internet connections.

"The biggest problem is that everybody is expecting these huge amounts of data but nobody is willing to pay much extra for it," said Stephen Rayment, chief technology officer of Belair Networks, which provides Wi-Fi services.

"Operators started offering 'all you can eat' data and now that's coming back to bite them," he said.




Speaking at Mobile World Congress Professor Simon Saunders, chairman of the femtoforum - the official non-profit standards' body proclaimed "2010 is the breakthrough year for femtocell".

From a UK perspective he was able to confirm the backing of industry regular Ofcom while T-Mobile, Telefonica/O2, Vodafone and Orange have all signed up as members so far. Furthermore, deployment of femtocell solutions to compete with Sure Signal is now ready and in their hands.

"The technology is there and it is now a matter of timing for the operators," he told me. "I cannot give specific dates, but all UK operators should be looking at a 2010 roll-out."

So far 55 network operators are femtocell forum members around the world, and operator commitments have jumped 50 per in the last three months alone. On top of this 3GPP has formalised femtocell standards, and the body's next generation ('Release 9') will bring support for LTE and enhancements for UMTS. The WiMax Forum is also on board as is the FCC in the US while China and Japan have confirmed their support.

Alcatel-Lucent recently announced the availability of a “small cell” (femtocell) designed to address the needs of enterprise customers. And last month Vodafone renamed its femtocell device to Sure Signal, as well as dramatically reducing its cost from £160 down to £50.

Informa said that the Vodafone relaunch of its femtocell offering is “realising considerable success in the UK, spearheading the entrance of femtocell services in the European market.”

“Vodafone rebranded the femtocell service to make the proposition clearer to end users while differentiating from their competition by eliminating indoor coverage deadspots,” it added.

According to Informa there are currently 12 service commitments, including nine commercial launches and several ongoing trials, while completed trials are now progressing into deployment plans for several mobile operators. This contrasts with eight femtocell service commitments and six commercial launches in November 2009.

During the last three months it cited French mobile operator SFR, Portuguese operator OPTIMUS and Chinese operator China Unicom, all of which have commercially launched femtocell services. Meanwhile it says that both Japan’s KDDI and France’s free have also committed to the technology.

Pictures Source: Trusted Reviews

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

OFDMA Femtocells: A Roadmap on Interference Avoidance

Earlier, I have blogged about LTE femtocells being starting point of LTE and how LTE can be better technology than HSPA. In this months IEEE Communications magazine, there is a series of articles on Femtocells. I will try and cover some of these (unless I wander off in some other direction). The first one is titled 'OFDMA Femtocells: A Roadmap on Interference Avoidance'. At the end of this post, I have provided links to the research and the actual paper (in a legal way ;) so if you are not interested in the post and want to directly jump on the actual paper see the end of this post.

There are all kinds of statistics about the number of Femtocells worldwide. There could be upto 70million by 2012. If this happens the big problem would be the interference between Macro and Femtocells and also between Femtos. OFDMA (used in LTE and WiMAX both) Femtocells can handle the interference better than CDMA (UMTS and CDMA2000) Femtocells due to its Intracell interference avoiding properties and robustness to multipath.

So what are the main problems that the operators will face when deploying femtocells? Lets look at some of them:

  • Access method: Three different approaches exist namely, Open access, Closed access and Hybrid access which is a mix of both of them. The first two approach has some problems and I have suggested a solution before ;) but the best solution may be to go for Hybrid approach where limited connectivity is available to non-subscribers of the femto.
  • Time Synchronisation is another important aspect of OFDMA Femtos. To minimise multi-access interference and for successful handovers, synchronisation between all the Femtos and between Femto and Macro is a must. This should be acheived without any complicated hardware so as to keep the cost down.
  • Physical Cell Idendities (PCI) could be a problem because of limited numbers
  • Neighbouring cell list, which is restricted to 32 in LTE, could be a problem if too many Femtos are around
  • Handovers could also be a problem if the UE keeps jumping between Femtos and macro. One solution could be the use of HCS.




Interference analysis will definitelty play an important part in the rollouts. If not properly managed, could result in dead zones within Macro. Power control Algorithms and Radio Resource Management strategy will help but effective Spectrum allocation technique is needed as well. The diagram above shows different approaches for subchannel allocation in OFDMA femtocells.


The Femtocells would need to be self-configurable and self-optimising. I tried to explain the SON concept earlier which is similar. Self-configuration comes into picture when the Femto is switched on. Once the parameters are adjusted then Self-Optimisation tries to optimise these defaults into something better and more suited to the current environment. Sensing of the environment plays an important part in this. The diagram above shows different approaches being used by different Femtocells. The cheapest approach would ofcourse be the measurement report approach where the phone is made to report the environment. The only problem being that whichever phone was used (automatically selected) will have considerable amount of its battery power used up :)

The team behind this IEEE paper has been doing some excellent research work in the field of femtocells.

There is a book that is under publication and will be available early next year. At the same time if it interests you, you can look at some of their publications including the IEEE one that has been quoted here. Here are all the necessary links:

Hope someone finds all this info useful :)

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

IP Access Virtual Fridge Notes Demo

Yesterday I blogged about the Airvana HubBub demo, so someone pointed out to me the IP access demo of Virtual Fridge notes. I saw the demo in Femtocells World Summit and wasnt clear on how exactly it worked, but this Youtube video shows it quite well.





When I was discussing this app with a friend, the first question he asked was, why cant we send an SMS directly to the person rather than using the Facebook app. I think the main reason is convinience. You need an app somewhere so why not put it in a popular social networking website. There is a plan of Femtocells being available with SIM cards. In that case it maybe possible in future to have a way where you send the SMS directly to the Femto and it can relay that SMS to any unique UE that enters its range for a limited time. I am sure someone will already be working on a similar thing ;)

Friday, 26 June 2009

Femto Forum Awards 2009: Winners and Losers

The Femto Forum, Femtocells award for 2009 were announced at a dinner on Wednesday,24th of June. Here are the names of the finalists and the winners:


1. Femtocell or femtocell network element design and technology innovation
• Bewan Systems - Femtocell residential gateway
• ip.access Ltd - nano3G
• Motorola Inc - Digital picture frame
Winner: ip.access Ltd - nano3G Enterprise Solution.

The nano3G represents an evolution of the femtocell into the enterprise environment. Not only does it support the 3GPP's new femtocell standard, it also represents a step up in coverage and capacity.

2. Femtocell service (commercial, prototype or demo)
• ip.access Ltd - Facebook virtual fridge notes
• Softbank Mobile Corp - IMS-based Femto trial
• Ubiquisys Ltd - Podcast sync
Winner: ip.access Ltd - Facebook virtual fridge notes.

The service implements a "classic" application use case - where the subscriber receives a reminder message when arriving at home - but with an innovative extension that enables the message to be composed and sent using Facebook.

3. Progress in commercial deployment (vendor or ecosystem)
• NEC Corporation - Commercial contracts and live trials
• Softbank Mobile Corp - Metro area trial
• Starent Networks/Airwalk Communications/Cellcom/Mavenir Systems - Multi-vendor femtocell solution
Winner: NEC Corporation

This recognizes NEC's strong traction in the market with several commercial contracts in place and several live trials underway with operators around the world.

4. Significant progress or commercial launch by a large carrier
• Softbank Mobile Corp - Launch
• Sprint Nextel Corp - Launch
• Vodafone Group Services Ltd - Trial
Winner: Sprint Nextel Corp.

This recognizes this commercial launch, which was the world's first commercial deployment of femtocells.

5. Significant progress or commercial launch by a small carrier
• Cellcom - Launch
• Chungwa Telecom Co Ltd - Launch
Winner: Cellcom.

For Cellcom’s deployment of the world's first IMS-based CDMA femtocell network for consumers and enterprises.

6. Contribution to femtocell standards (individual or company)
• Alcatel Lucent - General contribution to femtocell standards
• Nokia Siemens Networks - General contribution to 3GPP femtocell standard
• Taka Yoshizawa - Contribution to femtocell management standardisation
Winner: Taka Yoshizawa, Thomson

For his pivotal role in defining the femtocell management specifications by working through the Femto Forum, the Broadband Forum and the 3GPP.

7. Enabling technology (components, subsystems, modules etc.)
• Epitiro - Femtocell test suite
• Kineto Wireless Inc - Femtocell gateway controller
• picoChip Designs Ltd - Optimized system-on-chip solution
Winner: picoChip Designs Ltd -picoXcell™ PC302 SoC.

This optimized system-on-chip, which supports the 3GPP's new femtocell standard, embodies five years of femtocell experience, comprehensive interoperability testing and numerous real-world deployments.

8. Social vision - use of femtocells for social / economic / environmental development
• Alcatel Lucent - Consumer research into femtocell usage patterns
• Sagem Communications - Ecodesign
• Softbank Mobile Corp - Niimi project
Winner: Softbank Mobile Corp - Niimi project.

The project illustrates how femtocells can be cost-effectively deployed to deliver services in rural environments where existing coverage is limited.

9. Award for individual contributions to Femto Forum activities
• Chris Cox of ip.access - For coordinating the FemtoZone at Mobile World Congress
• Chris Fenton of Telefonica-O2 - For achieving architectural consensus in the Network & Interoperability working group
• Taka Yoshizawa of Thomson - For leading the Management subgroup to completion of TR-196
• Aya Mukaikubo of Softbank Mobile - For wide-ranging contributions to the Marketing & Promotion and Regulatory Working Groups as well as the Services Special Interest Group
• Dave Nowicki of Airvana - For leading the business case modeling work to an outstanding conclusion
• Alan Law of Vodafone & Chris Smart of picoChip – For coordinating the interference management white paper.
Winner: Chris Fenton of Telefónica-O2

For achieving architectural consensus as chair of the Femto Forum Network & Interoperability Working Group.

“The judges were extremely impressed by the high quality and number of award submissions which reflect the health and innovation of the femtocell industry,” said Simon Saunders, Chairman of the Femto Forum. “The femtocell industry is rapidly evolving as major advances are made in the technology, standards, services and applications - these awards recognise and reward this progress. Our congratulations to the winners and to all those who participated.”

The awards were open to the whole industry and were judged independently of the Femto Forum by a panel of distinguished analysts, journalists and industry experts, chaired by Professor William Webb, Head of R&D at Ofcom.

The judging panel comprised:
• Chairman of the judging panel: Prof. William Webb - Head of R&D - Ofcom
• Dean Bubley - Director - Disruptive Analysis
• Michelle Donegan - European Editor - Unstrung
• Caroline Gabriel - Head of Research - Rethink Wireless
• Peter Jarich - Research Director - Current Analysis
• Aditya Kaul - Senior Analyst, Mobile Networks - ABI Research
• Phil Marshall - Senior Research Fellow, Technology Research - Yankee Group
• Mike Roberts – Principal Analyst, Informa Telecoms & Media
• Sam Samra - Senior Director, Technical Programs - CDMA Development Group
• Adrian Scrase - Vice-President - 3GPP

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Operators give Femtocells Thumbs up in Femtocells World Summit

AT&T Inc. has announced that it will launch femtocells nationwide by the end of the year, expanding the trial launch it’s been running since January.

"We will expand that into a marketing trial of the AT&T-branded 3G Microcell, which will be open to customers through our AT&T stores ... in a handful of cities,” said Gordon Mansfield, AT&T's executive director for radio access network delivery, speaking at the Femtocells World Summit in London. "We're on track for a full national launch by the end of 2009."

He also said the carrier was exploring ways to expand the femto opportunity beyond simply selling standalone home base stations that offload cellular backhaul from the macro network and boost bandwidth for cellular users. For instance, integrating a femto into other devices in the home.

Meanwhile, Vodafone UK 's surprise femtocell service launch announcement yesterday won't force T-Mobile International AG 's hand to launch a rival service in the U.K. or in any of its markets.

The German giant is sticking to its femto guns and does not feel compelled to take on the largest mobile operator by revenue with a commercial home base station service of its own, simply because Vodafone was first to market in Europe.

"We won't be pushed by that announcement," said Klaus-Jürgen Krath, T-Mobile's senior VP of radio networks engineering, speaking on the sidelines of the Femtocells World Summit in London today. "Let's see how they do in the market...

"There is not any firm launch plan that I can disclose now," he added.

T-Mobile has been busily testing and investing in femto technology for the last few years, but the operator maintains that there are still technical and marketing issues that need to be resolved before a consumer mass market solution is possible.

T-Mobile is a strategic investor in access point vendor Ubiquisys Ltd. and femto chip startup Percello Ltd.

According to French mobile operator SFR , France is a tough market for femtocells.

And one of the issues that makes the country extra special in Europe is the growing public concern about the health risks from cellular antennas and handsets, according to Guillaume de Lavallade, director of network marketing at SFR, who was speaking at the Femtocells World Summit in London.

WiFi hotspots have been disconnected in public libraries; there have been court actions to prevent the installation of cellular masts or have them removed when they're close to schools or homes; and the national government is investigating the health risk associated with masts and handsets, explains Lavallade.

"Introducing femtos in France in this environment is raising these questions," he says.

You can explain that the emitted power of femtos is 10 times less than that of WiFi, comparable to a DECT phone, and that 3G handsets emit less power when connecting to the femto than on the macro network, or that a network based on a femto architecture generates less power than a macro architecture, he says.

"It's difficult for an operator to take those facts and figures to the consumer," he says.

SFR has been trialing a femto from Ubiquisys Ltd. , which was
spotted on a French Website recently.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Report on 'Femtocell Applications Live' at Femtocells World Summit

I was at the Femtocells World Summit yesterday evening attending 'Femtocell Applications Live'. Everybody looked excited and the atmosphere looked charged with people full of energy. Earlier in the morning, Vodafone had announced that its launching first commercial European Femtocell network.

There were 12 companies showing their demo. Unfortunately I was not able to capture the complete details but here is summary of my understanding (and notes and photos).

Before we proceed further, I should also mention that Femto Forum launched Services Special Interest Group (SSIG) whose main task is to to develop a framework that will simplify the development and deployment of femtocell applications.

Demo 1: IP Access
IP Access showed couple of demo's. The first being Facebook Virtual Fridge Notes Applications and the other Femto-enabled Connected Home Applications. There was some problem with the microphone and also CDMA like interference problems (if someone in the room is shouting, everyone starts shouting and the noice level increase drowns out the useful info) so I diddnt catch the second demo very well.

The Facebook Virtual Fridge notes app demo was very interesting and I am sure that we will definitely be seeing apps like this soon. There is very good explanation on IP Access website here so I am not expanding on this.

Demo 2: Motorola
Motorola were showing their award winning Digital Picture Frame Femtocell. It combines the capabilities of a touch screen digital picture frame with femtocells and SIP soft phone. Their femto was CDMA based and are also known as CDMA 9100 series.

One of their demo was Video streaming on the mobile through femtocell where they demonstrated point to point video streaming by using electronic programming guide (EPG) and playing selectable videos in QCIF format with 5 to 15 frames per second.


Their other demo was to Demonstrate touch screen menu and features on femtocell. Here they showed user interaction capability.

Demo 3: Sagem
Surprisingly you may not find any Femtocell related info on the Sagem website but the friendly people from Sagem explained me all about their products. You can see the Joggler type device in the picture, its known as Tabbee and has been launched by Orange in France. You can read more about it here. Its known as My Home Screen internally by Sagem. There is a similar Dect device launched with Telstra in Australia, internally called as My Communication Center. Sagem is also Alcatel Lucent Partner in their Femtocell development. In the picture above you can see the big femtocell that is soon being launched and the small one in front is the next generation of the same device that is being tested right now.



Their demo included Mobile Presence where, when the mobile reaches the Femtozone, different actions are triggered. They also showed how to remotely control TV and other applications through mobile when Femtocells are present.

Demo 4: Ubiquisys, Intrinsyc, Mobica


Ubiquisys gave a demo with Intrinsyc. Keith Day from Ubiquisys made clear in the start that they do not make Apps hence they were doing a demo with others. Their first demo was Mobica Podcast Sync App where when you arrive in the Femtozone then this app downloads the latest podcasts and you can listen to them. Once setup, its fully automatic. Could be really useful for me. You can read the press release of this one here.

The Intrinsyc UX-Zone is for Android phones. Depending on the surrounding the theme (desktop of phone) changes. When you arrive at home, it will show new apps that were not visible earlier. You can read more about it here.

Demo 5: Pirelli
This was a complete new name for me as I have never heard of them before. Their website is here.
They were showing IMTV application. IMTV is IM + TV. Their demo showed two different homes having a Quad-Play bundle from their operator. With the help of 3G Femtocell and the set top boxes the two homes can interact via Instant Messaging (IM). It is also possible to share information like what one home is watching to other.

The set top boxes are designed with open API so some third party can develop apps using it.

Demo 6: Airvana
Airvana has been in leading position in Femtocells. I always see some of their Femtos being tested somewhere or the other.
They were also prodly showing off their products and the name of their partners as can be seen above and below

Their demonstration though not groundbreaking but was done very well. The concept was explained clearly and in a way that anyone can understand.

A scneario was created with the person doing demo saying that he has two daughters and whenver they enter the femtocell zone, he gets an SMS saying that they are home. If for example one of them gets their boyfriend then the person will get an alert as whenever a new user camps in the cell, he can monitor. He can also monitor the number of active users so if there is a party, he can find out. Maybe we should call them Femto Spy Apps ;).

You can also synchronise the Digital Picture frame to your mobile so that whenever the phone comes in the Femtozone, the pictures are uploaded to display automatically.

Demo 7: Alcatel-Lucent
Their Demo included a new location aware "Over the Top" (OTT) apps from Google Latitude, Geopepper, etc. This can also help in things like retail affinity and proximity marketing. Another demo was of Geo mag. A service that delivers e-mags when a user enters a Femtocell

Another demo was Home notes, a 21st century version of post-it notes, whereby you can text or e-mail your messages to a place delivered only when the user has entered the target femtocell. Somewhat similar to IP Access application mentioned above.

Demo 8: Huawei
Theirs was a simple demo of detection service. When a family member enters the femtozone, you will receive notification SMS. The other was that when the UE is in Femtozone, the handset will be updated with a list of latest services and can enjoy them with single click. By the way, their Femtocells are of different shapes which are quite interesting.

Demo 9: Thomson

They were showing Integration of a standard mobile handset (with no additional client software) into the home network and using the mobile as universal remote control connected via 3G. The mobile phone can be used to control home multimedia system in dlna environment

For handset as universal remote control, Keypad and display for an X.10 control application hosted by the Femto CPE in OSGi environment. They showed the phone switching a light in the house on and off remotely.

Demo 10: Softbank
There was a video demo showing how useful Femtocell can be in daily life. For example a person is leaving home but has forgotten to close windows, so he gets a notification just when he is locking the door. Also if some friend comes to your house while you are shopping outside, you do not have to rush back. You can remotely unlock your door for him.

Along with the demo's mentioned above, LG-Nortel was showing their WiMAX Femtocell solution.

Then there was Continuous Computing with Starent Networks and PicoChip demonstrating their successful Iuh Inter-operability.
And finally, I met heard about another company called Rakon. They make oscillators for femtocells. You can see their flyer here.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

ALU and Vodafone hit the first goal in Femtocell World Summit

We have been hearing this for over a year now about Alcatel-Lucent Femtocell being trialled by Vodafone and finally we had this good news in the Femtocell World Summit.

Vodafone has announced the Femtocell World Summit today that its launching the first commercial Femtocell based service on the 1st of July.

Many European and Asian operators have trialled the tiny indoor base stations, and have been forceful in driving standards, but commercial deployments have so far been confined to the US, where Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel are live with limited function CDMA devices and AT&T is to follow soon, using fully blown products from Cisco and the UK's ip.access. Now Vodafone, which has conducted a range of trials in various territories and with different suppliers, has delivered its always hefty endorsement by leapfrogging rival triallists like Telefonica/O2 with a live offering.

Vodafone 's move is important for the sector not because it is supporting any groundbreaking applications in the first stage - the launch is firmly focused on improved indoor signals - but because it quietens the major source of nervousness about femtos, that they are not sufficiently tried and tested for mass consumer roll-out. This has led some suppliers to argue that operators will not move beyond trials for at least another year and possibly longer, delaying the payback for vendors and other involved parties.

Vodafone is understood to be using femtocells from Alcatel-Lucent, probably the most prominent tier one wireless vendor to offer its own devices rather than badging those of a specialist supplier. ALU's products run on the architecture of UK-based picoChip, which also supplies the silicon for ip.access and others. Live roll-outs by Vodafone and AT&T will be valuable for the credibility of the whole segment, and for the sustainability of the specialist start-ups like picoChip.

I have been in the past been involved with IOT testing on ALU Femtocells so I am feeling quite pleased about this.

The Vodafone Access Gateway (VAG) as its being called will be sold for £160. Customers who pay £15 or more per month on contract will get it free.