Will Franks - femtocell pioneer

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27 March 2009

Femtocells for Business

This week I spoke at the Femtocells Asia conference in Tokyo on the subject of business femtocells.

Here are the main points:
  • A grid of modular “Lego bricks” of coverage that can fit any business space and which can be easily expanded or remodelled
  • Self-organising capabilities that eliminate the need for expensive RF planners to do site surveys or network engineers change the macro network to accommodate
  • Simple enough to be sold through an operator’s existing direct and indirect channels.
It’s clear why picocells have had limited success to date. ABI Research senior analyst Aditya Kaul captured it: “One major reason for picocells’ low penetration has been their high total cost of ownership." Equipment costs are one aspect, but complexity of install has made deployment expensive and has limited the channels to market to the highly skilled.

How femtocell grids change this is by bringing complexity of install down to the level of WiFi, thus opening up the channels to market to include IT resellers as well as mail order self install.

There will always be the real high value enterprise customers where mobile operators will want to apply the personal touch and oversee the install themselves, but for the vast majority from SOHOs upwards a femtocell or femtocell grid, will enable, at last, new and compelling business packages to become available.

The Femto Forum meeting, also here in Tokyo, seems to be making good progress, and membership of the Forum continues growing almost weekly.