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Small cells

Femto Plugfest

12:30 PM -- It's a day for milestones for the femtocell market.

On the same day that one femto vendor, Ubiquisys Ltd. , touted a sub-$100 femtocell, the Femto Forum Ltd. announced the completion of the first femto plugfest, which marks a step toward equipment interoperability. (See Ubiquisys Busts $100 Femto Barrier and Forum Plugs Femto Plugfest.)

Price and standardization are two issues that operators have been very demanding about when it comes to femtocells: The little base stations need to cost less than $100 wholesale, and they have to be standardized, in a nutshell. To date, only 10 operators actually have commercial femto services up and running, according to Light Reading Mobile's new report, "Who Does What: Femtocell Services."

The plugfest, conducted with European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) , tested interoperability among femto network gateways, security gateways, femtocell access points, and chipsets to verify the new 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) luh standard, which defines the link between the network gateways and femto access points. The plugfest also tested IPSec/IKEv2 security protocols. (See Femtos Flesh Out Standards, Femto Standard Clears Final Hurdle, and Femtos Prep Plugfest.)

Here are some of the companies that participated: Acme Packet Inc. (Nasdaq: APKT), Airvana Inc. , Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Genband Inc. , Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , ip.access Ltd. , Kineto Wireless Inc. , NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701), Nokia Networks , Picochip , and Ubiquisys.

Today's femto news shows some progress on price and standards. Now, what about that pesky interference with the macro network?

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

Simon_femto 12/5/2012 | 4:40:27 PM
re: Femto Plugfest

Michelle


You ask "Now, what about that pesky interference with the macro network?". I'm sure you've already spotted that Femto Forum has now published 3 large studies (and a summary overview paper) on exactly that issue (freely available from www.femtoforum.org). The conclusion - which is increasingly borne out in large-scale commercial deployments - is that successful interference mitigation techniques exist. Not only do these avoid harmful interference, but they deliver improved capacity and performance for both the femtocell AND macrocell users.


That's why the chairman of the FCC says that the FCC will encourage the use of femtocells -  extra spectrum alone just isn't enough to meet the growth in mobile broadband data.


 


So not so pesky after all!



Simon


m__reed 12/5/2012 | 4:40:27 PM
re: Femto Plugfest

Michelle,


I am glad you have asked about interference - as Simon says, certainly the Femto Forum have looked into this topic in detail.  I'd also like to make you aware of the interference cancelling technology we have developed which provides three key benefits, improved range, improved uplink throughput and minimising noise rise/interference onto the macro system.  You can see our press release on what we believe to be a world first real-time realisation.  http://www.nicta.com.au/news/h...


This method has been discussed by Qualcomm, ie. it is on their roadmap.


We think as the densities of femtos increases strategies like this will become increasingly important in what I call femto 2.0 realisations.


Regards
Mark


 

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:40:26 PM
re: Femto Plugfest

Hi Simon,


Thanks for your comments.


I would be interested to know, are there examples of large-scale deployments where the femto is deployed in a shared carrier? As in, where the operator has just two carriers and the femto is widely deployed in one of those bands. If I'm not mistaken, Vodafone, for example, has 3 carriers and has deployed its femtos in the third carrier.


I think it's valid to question whether interference -- actual or perceived -- is one of the reasons why so few operators have launched femto services.  Check out our report, Who Does What: Femtocell Services, for the latest data on commercial deployments:


http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=189255&


Michelle

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:40:25 PM
re: Femto Plugfest

Thanks, Mark. This looks interesting.


What are operators doing with femtocells in Australia?


Michelle

m__reed 12/5/2012 | 4:40:24 PM
re: Femto Plugfest

Michelle,


We consider world markets rather than the Australian Market specifically with our development.  Having said that, Australia has some unique problems where femtocells can be very advantageous, for example a recent government report (Glasson Report) found that 74% of Aboriginal communities don't have handheld mobile cellular coverage, where they recommended that this lack of service should be rectified.  The low cost of femtocells reduces the CAPEX barrier and with satellite backhaul will light up even the most remote areas, mining could be a huge application in remote areas. There are also issues in cities here, some carriers have limited spectrum and backhaul is very limited, femtocells could offload traffic and backhaul minimising CAPEX blowouts.


Regarding your other comment to Simon on multi-cell macro-femto configurations, this is a very good question.  There has been some work on real-world tests but the numbers of users and femtos is pretty limited.  There are some interesting iteraction effects and we have spent considerable time developing an extensive modelling tool to determine average results with hunderds of users with modest loadings.  A pre-print of our accepted peer reviewed paper on this topic can be found at : http://www.hindawi.com/journal...


Mark

Simon_femto 12/5/2012 | 4:40:19 PM
re: Femto Plugfest

Michelle


Yes I think it is a very valid question, and I think it's certainly true that there is a variation in the extent to which different operators have been able to fully examine this issue for themselves. But we are finding that the operators which have spent the longest examining it are exactly those who have the greatest confidence that today's interference mitigation techniques work to deliver high capacity AND performance in commercial-scale deployments. 


A good example is the comments made by Gordon Mansfield, Executive Director of RAN Delivery, AT&T, speaking at the Femtozone at CTIA March 2010:




“We have deployed femtocells co-carrier with both the hopping  channels for GSM macrocells and with UMTS macrocells. Interference isn’t a problem.”

“We have tested femtocells extensively in real customer deployments of many thousands of femtocells, and we find that the mitigation techniques implemented successfully minimise and avoid interference”

“The more femtocells you deploy, the more uplink interference is reduced”

 Simon




Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:40:17 PM
re: Femto Plugfest AT&T is a good example, thanks.

Michelle
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