An apocryphal story was reported recently of an iPhone user in New York who wanted to return it and have it repaired because of the large number of voice calls which were failing. On investigation, the store found that there was a 22% call drop rate. However, this wasn't deemed to be particularly unusual for that area and the customer was sent on his way without any change. Wouldn't it have made him a happier customer if he'd been given (or even just able to buy) a femtocell to solve these issues when indoors?
The 3GPP standard body develops and releases all standards pertaining to the GSM/UMTS and LTE mobile network. Both of the 3GPP SA1 committee (which produces requirements specifications) and 3GPP SA2 (which looks after the system architecture aspects) have been dealing with this hot topic.
The Femto Forum (not a standards body itself) has hosted some very lively debate on the subject, with a view to achieving industry consensus so that time spent at standards meetings can focus on developing and approving the standards. This will reduce the time taken to reach an approved standard, and limit the risk of developing or deploying pre-standardised solutions.
The state of the femtocell market today can be compared to a scene in an action movie, where the large dam has been blown up, the audience is holding its breath waiting for the enormous wall of water to descend, but only a trickle is so far seen to appear.
The 4GWorld conference looks at both WiMAX and LTE technologies from both a business and commercial aspect. There are numerous keynote speakers and multiple tracks of panel sessions, including one on where and when femtocells fit in the picture.
A Scottish firm has been pushing the envelope on who and how femtocells may be sold and operated. Hay Systems, who have designed and launched their own 2G GSM femtocell, have announced two new routes to market. Here, we look again at the option for outsourcing the femtocell operation as a managed service.
Vodafone is more fortunate than many 3G network operators because it bought more 3G spectrum than most. It paid 5,964,000,000 pounds (about $10 Billion) for 15Mhz of spectrum, of which perhaps $3Billion remains unused today. Femtocells are making use of it, but with a few thousands femtocells being shipped, each $250 effectively comes with $1million of spectrum.
How was this extra spectrum used? Is this really necessary for femtocell deployment and would this be an issue for other network operators?