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Small cells

Crime-Fighting Femtos

11:25 AM -- Two years ago at CTIA, I remember hearing about how Airvana Inc. both caught a criminal and demoed the power of femtocell applications by using their in-booth demo to track the thief that stole their smartphone. The company got texts when he left the scene of the crime and, as many dumb criminals tend to do, when he returned to it.

But that's the last I've heard about femto cell apps. That is, until today.

The newly renamed Small Cell Forum Ltd. announced Wednesday it's teaming with the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) to develop API standards to speed the time to market for small cell apps. (See Small Cell Forum Drops the 'F' Word .)

And, according to the organizations, several wireless operators are already venturing into this territory -- not for crimebusting, but for location-based services. For example, Telecom Italia (TIM) and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) are using small cells' geo-location capabilities in a museum to provide visitors with multimedia info about the exhibits. NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) also offers a commercial app that alerts parents when their children come home.

I think this is just the start of apps we'll see popping up specifically for small cells. I can also envision targeted offers that pop up on your smartphone when you near a store in a mall. It's another way operators can monetize with minimal investment required.

As with Wi-Fi offload, right now operators are in the just-getting-small-cells-deployed stage, but apps are the next wave. It's something to think about when you're eyeing that shiny new smartphone sitting unattended at a booth next week in Barcelona.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:41:55 PM
re: Crime-Fighting Femtos

The Small Cell Forum says operators are currently commissioning developers to write apps for small cells, so I imagine the market could shape up like their involvement in mobile apps. But, I also wonder if they can be circumvented by OTT apps...just like on mobile too.

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