Femtocell Opinion, comment and reviews

Are we nearly there yet (Femtocell widespread availability that is)?

Femtocell Journey Parents will be familiar with this frequent question when embarking on any long distance trip - even if you've only just left home. From time to time, I've also been asked a similar question by those keen to get their hands on a femtocell - namely "when will these be available at a store near me". Are things about to change soon?

It's a bit like a returning spacecraft

Those with memories of the NASA space missions may recall the nerve-wracking periods during re-entry where all communications cease. As the spacecraft commits to returning to Earth, it's speed increases to a point where communication with the outside world is no longer possible. After what seems an interminable delay, suddenly it reappears and within a few minutes it's all over.

I believe there's a lot going on behind the scenes at many operators. Field trials of various sizes have been run, testing both the technology and the business/use cases - we saw some results of these shared by operators at the last Femtocell conference in Japan in March.

It's gone quiet in some operators for the reason that they're preparing to launch, but don't want to alert their competitors.

A lot is involved in bringing femtocells to market

As we've said before, there are many behind-the-scenes aspects to launching a femtocell. This may be one reason why there has been so much interest in Enterprise femtocells, which would be easier to launch.

In addition to incorporating the technical equipment into their networks (femtocell gateways and femtocells), operators also need to update their customer care systems (to allow you to order, terminate and modify your service), their billing systems (so you get discounted calls and/or other benefits) and train their staff to answer sales and support questions. These all take time and explain why it takes months to bring new products to market.

But something can be expected soon

With several operators reputed to be gearing up for a commercial launch, I think it is safe to predict we'll see several launches during the next few months. Whether this will be in your country or not, I can't tell (even if I did know).

Until then femtocells are only available outside trials in USA (Sprint, Verizon), Singapore (Starhub) and Japan (Softbank) unless you are involved in a trial.

But you can be sure we will be watching and analysing any trends in the coming months.

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