For the record, a femtocell is a "low-power wireless access point that operates in licensed spectrum to connect standard mobile devices to a mobile operator’s network using residential DSL or cable broadband connections," according to the industry group Femto Forum Ltd.
The pint-size base stations go into homes or offices to improve indoor cellular coverage and the traffic is backhauled to the mobile core network over users' own broadband connections.
It is not yet exactly clear whether many customers will actually pay for the diminutive RF helpers. Most of the femto activity this year has been in operator labs, field trials, and standards bodies. The number of operators with live, commercial femtocell services today can be counted on one hand, namely Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) in the U.S. and StarHub in Singapore.
This "Who Makes What" report covers the basic CPE and network equipment operators will need to deploy femtocells: the femtocell access points – the actual devices that are installed in homes and offices; femtocell gateways – the network elements that aggregate femto traffic; and the chips that go into the femtocell access points.
Areas such as network management and service provisioning have not been included in this report, even though these systems will be important for operators to determine the feasibility of a femtocell deployment and choose from among competing vendors' solutions. These issues can be addressed at a later time when more operators are actually deploying femtocells commercially and the management systems will take on greater significance.
As with previous "Who Makes What" reports, we ask you to help us complete the picture. If there are companies or products that we missed or if there is information here that is inaccurate, please tell us on the message boards or send an email to [email protected], and we'll update the information. (See Who Makes What: Telco Home Gateways and Who Makes What: GPON Equipment.)
Here's the hyperlinked menu for the femto feast in this report:
- Page 2: The Small State of Play
- Page 3: Femtocell Access Points
- Page 4: Femtocell Gateways
- Page 5: Femtocell Chips
- Page 6: The Femto Future
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung
Next Page: The Small State of Play