12:00 PM -- Finally, the Femto Forum has dropped the "F" word from its name and from now on will be known as the Small Cell Forum Ltd.
Even when the group first formed back in 2007, there was some debate about what to call the little base stations that go in homes or offices to improve indoor cellular coverage. But the term "femtocell" stuck. (See The Femto Stays and Femto Shmemto.)
The change makes sense and reflects that this industry body does more than just promote those tiny indoor base stations. Its mission includes any small cell that operates in licensed spectrum.
I think the name change also makes it possible for certain industry players to take a more active role in the group. Notably, Ericsson AB -- femtocells' most famous critic -- now has a board position at the Small Cell Forum. (See Ericsson: We Have Nothing Against Femtos, Ericsson's 3G Femto Issue, Ericsson Stalls on 3G Femtos and Femto Chips Too Costly.)
As for femtos, the Forum offered some deployment stats. The group claims that Sprint Nextel Corp. has deployed more than 500,000 units while Vodafone UK, SoftBank Corp. and SFR have each deployed more than 100,000 femtos. For AT&T Inc., the Forum does not provide a figure, but claims it is the world's largest femto deployment.
With the name change out of the way, the group can get back to making the business case for various sizes of indoor and outdoor small cells for 3G and Long Term Evolution (LTE), working with Wi-Fi, backhaul, network management and standardization.
And all that is no small challenge for the Small Cell Forum.
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile