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TeliaSonera Preps Femto Trial

Telia Company plans to launch femtocell trials in two markets this spring, Unstrung has learned.

The news follows reports last week that T-Mobile International AG will test the small home base stations in Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.K., which indicates the growing momentum behind femtocells. (See T-Mobile Trials Femtos, Femtocells Brace for Big 2008, Vodafone RFP Fuels Femtocells, Vodafone Picks Femto Vendors, Is AT&T Putting Out Femto Feelers?, and FT Preps Femtocell RFP.)

TeliaSonera has chosen two vendors for trials in Sweden and another country this spring, and plans to start trials with end users in the third quarter this year, Johan Wickman, senior vice president for mobility R&D, told Unstrung on the sidelines of the IP Telco World conference in London today. He would not reveal the vendors, however.

"We want to start trials as soon as possible, but that is the timeline the vendors are giving us," said Wickman. "Femtocells add the opportunity to enhance indoor 3G coverage and mobile data services."

TeliaSonera already has a view on how femtocells will fit in with its fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) strategy. The operator offers an unlicensed mobile access (UMA)-based dual-mode WiFi/GSM service called Home Free in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The operator believes that femtocells will allow this service to evolve. (See Swedes Are Home Free With FMC, TeliaSonera Picks Moto, and Moto Boosts Kineto.)

Wickman said femtocells would be the next step in the development of the Home Free service. He said the dual-mode service had "good growth," but would not disclose subscriber numbers.

"[Femtocells] will have the same service concept as Home Free, but a different technology delivering it," he said. "For Home Free, UMA is a first step -- femtocells are the next step."

TeliaSonera's clear view on how a UMA-based dual-mode FMC service is compatible with a femtocell strategy is in contrast to Orange France 's perceived difficulties with positioning its femtocell activities with its UMA-based dual-mode service Unik, which Unstrung reported in November. (See Orange Builds on FMC Base, Orange Doubles FMC Customers, and FT Preps Femtocell RFP.)

T-Mobile, which revealed its femtocell trial plans last week, offers a UMA-based dual-mode service in the U.S. But, currently, T-Mobile's femtocell activity is only focused on three of its European markets. (See T-Mobile Launches UMA in USA.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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