Ericsson's 3G Femto Issue
Ericsson developed a GSM femtocell in late 2007 as part of a home gateway that includes a WiFi access point, a home router, and a DSL modem. The company said in December 2007 that it wouldn't be interested in a 3G femtocell until the market was ready, possibly in 2009. (See Ericsson Stalls on 3G Femtos .)
But with 2009 having arrived, Ericsson remains unconvinced, as became clear during the Q&A sessions at the company's capital market day event on Thursday in Boston. "We still don't understand the business case for 3G femtocells," Ericsson SVP and head of business unit networks Johan Wibergh told Unstrung after the event finished for the day.
Wibergh has two points backing up Ericsson's hesitancy to get involved with 3G in the home:
As far as he's concerned, WiFi "solves the problem" of improving data coverage in the home -- the issue 3G femtocells would specifically address -- and it is already installed in many laptops and smartphones around the globe. Ericsson and many other vendors already produce 2G femto products that can be used to improve voice coverage in a user's domicile.
Moreover, Ericsson still sees interference problems as a possibility when users install femtocells in areas, such as cities, where dense 3G networks are already in place.
Wibergh does allow that 3G femtocells "might be suitable for rural deployments."
So, for the moment, Ericsson still isn't planning to introduce its own 3G femtocell. But the company will work with carriers to make other vendors' equipment work with Ericsson gear.
Wibergh does say that a 3G femtocell element could have a role in an Ericsson home gateway product, which would likely include wired networking, multimedia, and WiFi modules. "That would be for a higher-end customer," he notes.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung