Softbank Japan announced this week that it plans to launch a femtocell product in January 2009 and has awarded a supply contract to NEC. Unlike mainstream femtocell developments, this uses a different network architecture with calls made and received using the SIP internet protocol which is commonly used to handle Voice over IP (VoIP) calls rather than the existing mobile network core networks via the Iu interface. Why the different approach?
I’ve been struck recently by the number of places offering free WiFi these days. Pubs, cafés, hotels, guest houses – why even MacDonalds has equipped over 15,000 stores globally with Free WiFi . In the future, will these establishments advertise femtocell access with your coffee and croissant (or burger)?
Intellectual Property is the “other meaning” of the term IP (sometimes also known as IPR for Intellectual Property Rights). How will this "tax" apply to femtocells and derived products? [Note: Earlier link error fixed - click through to view the article]
An important part of the business case for femtocells for operators is to offload their macrocellular network, so they don’t need to invest as much in their basestations. If a large part of the network traffic is handled locally by femtocells and connected through customer’s own broadband internet, then significantly less investment will be required. Less additional radio equipment on each cellsite, less backhaul (transmission from the cellsites to the operator’s main switching centres) and potentially reducing the need for additional sites in heavily congested areas.
The premise of the vendors is that femtocells should require no radio planning. Since operators do not, by and large, know where any individual femtocell will be deployed, they cannot reconfigure their macro network to account for this. There is substantial research and trial work ongoing to reduce the impact of the femtocell on the outdoor macrocellular network. Since the signal levels are very low power and do not easily penetrate walls, little is radiated outside the premises where they are located. Some femtocells also “listen” to the external macrocellular network to pick a frequency which will cause minimum interference.