Heavy Reading Reveals Femtocell Survey Results

Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
8/8/2008



We've written a lot in these pages over the past few years about the emerging femtocell opportunity, on the basis that self-optimizing, small-cell technology could redefine the way mobile data networks are deployed and operated.

Now, with increasing awareness of the technology's potential, and with a number of trials underway around the world, Heavy Reading has just completed its first "Femtocell Deployment & Market Perception Survey." The in-depth study aggregates the views of 111 service provider professionals, from 79 different network operators, to reveal a market-wide view of the major femtocell opportunities and challenges, and to identify the vendor capabilities most valued by operators.

Femtocells – a.k.a. home base stations or cellular access points – are low-power, unmanaged devices that provide mobile phones with access to cellular and home networks. User traffic is backhauled over consumer-grade broadband connections to the mobile core, or forwarded directly to the Internet.

Femtocell modules are expected to be integrated into home gateway equipment, operate in licensed spectrum, and will work with standard mobile phones. The idea is to provide low-cost coverage and capacity extension to the wide-area network and use this capability to improve end-user service and start to offer new, or enhanced, applications.

At face value, the concept is a good one. What the Heavy Reading survey does is test the hypothesis against the views of network operators, identifies the applications expected to drive the femtocell business case, and reveals the biggest perceived technical barriers to commercial deployment.

Here are some of the highlights from the study:

  • The femtocell business case will be built around the opportunity for large, integrated operators to offer bundled fixed/mobile services. More than 70 percent of respondents expect to use their own broadband access networks to backhaul femtocell traffic.
  • Survey data identifies 2010 as the critical launch period for commercial femtocell services. Fifty-four percent of respondents expect to go live in the period between the second half of 2009 and the end of 2010, versus 33 percent that do not expect to launch until 2011 or later.
  • Improved coverage is seen as the single most important factor driving the business case for femtocells. This is especially the case in North America, where coverage enhancement dominates the discussion, but it is also a significant driver in densely populated geographies, such as Western Europe.
  • Proprietary interfaces (lack of standards) and radio interference management are the two largest technical concerns for operators planning femtocell deployments.
  • Core network integration skills, expertise in radio technology, and technical support are the three most important vendor attributes. Capability in advanced mobile Internet applications and home networking applications are seen as slightly less important attributes for a vendor.


— Gabriel Brown, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading


For more information or a FREE PREVIEW of the "Femtocell Deployment & Market Perception Survey," please contact:

    Lee Salem
    Sales Director – Custom Research, Heavy Reading
    415-947-6144
    [email protected]


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