Femtocell vendors are faced with a difficult task: they must drive costs down while meeting carrier-driven requirements for products, in a market where there are no firm ideas about what a femtocell is, and what a femtocell system needs to support. As a result, manufacturers will look to add multimode functionality in order to reach a point where economies of scale can contribute to lowering costs.
Wireless research director Stuart Carlaw of ABI Research says, “Recent femtocell RFP activity shows a wide variety of product demands being voiced by carriers, ranging from simple stand-alone products through to products that integrate multiple cellular standards, ADSL gateways, multiple transport layer technologies and Wi-Fi.” He adds that “Multimodal products allow OEMs to target multiple carriers with the same platform, while semiconductor vendors will find it difficult to produce reference designs and drive down silicon costs without the economies of scale that stem from a common notion of what a femtocell system should incorporate.”
ABI Research advocates further standardization of the femtocell. Standardization work is currently being considered in the 3GPP, where femtocells are being explored as an extension to current standards. Such efforts will be key to moving the market forward. Moreover, notes Carlaw, “An industry-driven body that unites the elements of the ecosystem under a common set of guidelines and goals would be warmly welcomed.”
ABI Research’s report, Femtocell Access Points, explains how femtocells provide savings on backhaul costs, improve in-building coverage, reduce churn, promote migration, and provide a platform for operators to build an effective delivery system for triple- and quadruple-play services. It forms part of three ABI Research Services: Femtocells, Fixed-Mobile Convergence, and Wireless Infrastructure.
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