I had the opportunity to witness what it’s like moving into a brand new tower block apartment in London recently where some relatives moved in. I was struck by the contrast between the high standard of basic services provision with the thoughtlessness of cellular service. The industry seems be getting distracted with 5G while simply ignoring the needs of its customers.
Small Cell Business Cases
Martin Wren-Hilton tells me he's never had so much fun. His job as Head of Mobile Innovation at TalkTalk is to figure out how to squeeze a high quality mobile network service from a slither of previously unused spectrum. He presented at MWC on what's involved, their test results to date and how it could evolve.
On Friday, Free commercially launched a residential femtocell module for their existing Freebox. This will capture 3G calls in the home, providing much better signal quality and offload traffic from macrocells. Since Free, a new mobile operator in France has to pay substantial annual roaming fees to France Telecom, the switch to residential femtocells has a strong business case for them too.
We've been reporting about this plan since two years ago, in July 2011, so it's nice to see it come to fruition, and clearly indicates a execution of a calculated long term strategy which could affect the industry worldwide.
We examine the business drivers, reveal who's behind the design and manufacturing, and consider whether this approach has the same potential to shake the telco industry up as have low cost airlines in the aviation sector.
2015 promises to be the most successful year for residential femtocell shipments, with confident forecasts in the region of 3.5 to 4 million units shipped. We consider what's driving this market segment, the reasons behind strong demand for 3G and how the transition towards LTE will affect it.
Vodafone UK ran out of supplies of their latest Sure Signal femtocell last week – their latest 3rd generation model is sometimes called a femtoplug because it resembles a mains electrical plug. Their online shop posted a "currently unavailable" status on the product, and shops with stock found they were being quickly snapped up or redirected elsewhere.
This led to rumours on the Vodafone forum that the service itself might be discontinued, with one customer being told by customer services that "we've had a top level instruction saying NO more Sure Signal devices are to be supplied". In practice, this was simply a case that there weren't any available in stock at that time.
This week, the online store is back to normal and accepting orders – presumably fresh supplies have been delivered and stocks replenished.