A new class of “base stations” has emerged, called femtocells and/or pico cells. These devices are the size of a WiFi base station and provide indoor wireless operator quality coverage and service to your mobile phone or device, often in operator licensed bands, using existing broadband Internet connections (see Figure 2), unlike WiFi access points that use a shared spectrum.
Low-cost – Femtocells are currently mostly offered as a consumer purchase through mobile operators, although some offer them through their customer support process.
User/self installed – These devices are designed to be installed by consumers and activated through wireless service providers and incorporate features such as self provisioning and self integration.
Install anywhere– Small cells transmit at 1-200 milliwatts, similar to Wi-Fi access points, and have adaption features that reduce interference and self optimize.
Broadband-connected – All connectivity to the home network is via Internet protocol (IP) using flat base station architectures.
Wireless mobile networks were initially designed and built primarily for mobility w/outdoor on street level coverage. Many coverage holes too expensive to fill. (Typically the price of the macro site is more than the projected revenue from that area.)
Data growth has increased the cost structure of operators without equivalent relief in their RAN cost structure for serving their need for spectrum re-use and data coverage.
A very attractive technology solution for providers, IP connected small cells haven’t provided enough value to be adopted by mainstream users. Unfortunately, operators quickly point out there is an economic barrier to realizing the femtocell business case. No sale: end user data shows purchasing a coverage enhancement only device is not attractive. The other value limiting challenges include complexity, operator exclusivity, low flexibility, and poor support all hampering the small cells market.
|Operator||Manufacturer (Device)||Core (FGW)||Device (FAP)||Estimated Units 1Q2012|
|ATT||ip.access/Cisco||Cisco FCG,Kineto, Genband, Ericsson IMS||3G Microcell (WCDMA + HSPA)||500K|
|Sprint||Samsung Ubicell||Samsung||Airrave (1x)||200K|
|Airvana Hubub||IMS||Airrave 2 (1x+EVDO)||250K|
|Verizon||Samsung Ubicell||Samsung||Network Extender (1X)||250K|
|Network Extender 2 (1X+EVDO)||200K|
|Cellcom||Airwalk EdgePoint||Starent, Taqua/Tatara, Mavenir||TRIALS ONLY|
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Nomor Research: LTE HeNB and Enhancements in Release 9
Aalto University Presentation: Femtocells: Technology and Developments
ipAccess, The Chemistry of Small Cells 84150_scws2012-ipaccess-the-chemistry-of-small-cells
Cool RootMetrics Infographic on spectrum.
Femto Forum: Femto APIs
Network Sharing DT