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How should SIP based femtocells be marketed?

SIP femtocell architectureMarketing the technology shouldn’t be what the operators do. A network centric technology approach benefits the operator, not the customer. Instead, IMS/SIP should be marketed around something new, such as notifications to your family when you get home, new ways to use the phone in the home etc.
Enterprise users could benefit from tie-in to the IP-PBX, with features such as 4 digit dialling, presence, simultaneous ring etc.

 

What demonstrations have been seen?

A group of like minded companies have put together demonstrations of an end-to-end SIP-based femtocell solution. We’ve heard of two separate demos:

a)    One involving:
o    Ubiquisys – UMTS SIP femtocell access point
o    AcmePacket Session Border Controller
b)    Another involving:
o    Acme Packet – Security gateway and session border controller
o    AirWalk – CDMA SIP femtocell access point
o    Tatara Systems – IMS convergence server

These demonstrations support both CDMA and UMTS standard handsets making and receiving calls, using their standard 2G phone number and call profile. This was demonstrated most recently at CTIA Wireless 2009 in April.

What can we expect next?

The scenarios for takeup of IMS would encompass:
a)    Rich Communication Services (RCS) using existing 3G phones with smart clients
b)    SIP based femtocells, justified by offering additional services and features including Fixed/Mobile Convergence
c)    4G LTE based networks, led by CDMA networks such as Verizon who are planning to launch in 2010.

Initially used with macrocells, LTE femtocells could follow in a few years.

Summary

My own view is that takeup of SIP/IMS in mobile networks will need to happen first before SIP based femtocells take off. This is most likely in CDMA networks, which are rapidly adopting IMS for their 4G networks due to go live later in 2010.

IMS/SIP can also be used over 3G – it doesn’t need SIP capable femtocells – but when IMS is more widely used, then femtocells could switch over to using this technology.

Of course, this view contradicts the position of some of today’s SIP/IMS vendors who would argue that adopting IMS as soon as possible will stimulate takeup and reduce long term migration costs.


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