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back to article Femtocell Forum grows big – rebrands as Small

The Femtocell Forum has changed its name to the Small Cell Forum, reflecting how the tech is migrating upwards, but also how femtos haven't yet set the world alight. The organisation has been successful in uniting femtocell manufacturers, and around the world there are a scattering of deployments – most of which conform to the …

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Meh

There are reasons.......

There are two main issues with Femto.

From the Network Operators view, they can interfere with the MacroCell network. RBS's have a bell curve coverage map [with the RBS in the middle - peak- of the bell curve], and the network planning and dimensioning takes this into effect and maps and overlaps RBS's to give a uniform coverage.

Femto, being 'closed' to the household, often with no more then 4 or eight users, interferes with this bell curve and can actually reduce RBS's coverage. It also means there is no 'public' handover from an RBS to a Macro, which in turn can lead to a dropped call. This is supposed to be managed by the Radio Access Controller, but as this may not be connected directly to the correct MSC, [unless the MSC's are in 'pool'] then this too gives the NOC added complexity.

The other issue with Femto is also their advantage. That the fixed line operator carries the bulk of the 'in building' coverage, which means the fixed line operator has to be connected to the RAC. If it is not, because the user takes their home package from another supplier, Femto's won't work.

Femtos /can/ be used in an SME or Corporate location, to provide in building coverage, but this is usually mapped into the NOC coverage plan, and frankly there are not enough SME's nor Corporates who need to add in building coverage, hence the low take up of Femto's.

From a consumer point of view, why do you need the extra hardware in the home if you already have a fixed line broadband connection ? You can use wifi on most devices these days to connect to the internet and carry voip traffic, such as skype and sip. Are there really that many consumers that do not have in home coverage to receive the occasional call ? It seems not, again, the reason for the low take up of Femto's.

Small cells will never really replace RBS's, for most of these reasons.

It /will/ be intersting to see how the 'small cells' progress, but I suspect they will not set the world alight.........

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Re: There are reasons.......Erm?

Where do you get your information from? You use some terms which leads me to believe you have some technical knowledge but sorry I cannot agree with hardly any of the above. Anyway everyone one is entitled to their opinion, personally I can see good growth in this sector especially in SME with newer Femtos covering a larger area with more concurrent users. More and more Telcos are picking up on Femtos as part of their long term Strategies, I'm sure LTE versions are in the pipeline ( if not already out there).... Also what do you mean by no handover from RBS to Macro?

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Meh

Re: Re: There are reasons.......Erm?

"" Also what do you mean by no handover from RBS to Macro? ""

This was a typo and should have read "..... no handover from RBS to Femto".

What this means is that as the FEMTO in a home [for example] is essentially a closed network, like a home wifi router, then, as the FEMTO interferres with the RBS coverage, a 'public' user can have handover issue4s from RBS to RBS is the FEMTO is in the middle, but is broadcasting badly : ie, the home user is pointing it in the wrong direction for example.

This is part of the reason why the current generations of Femto's have not sold very well and the market is small. To a certain extent, my personal feeling is that it is a good solution looking for a problem to solve.....

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Re: Re: Re: There are reasons.......Erm?

Ah ok, thought it might be a typo. Femto can be open as well and their transmit is really weak compared to Macro but in the UMTS world interference is always possible. Voda sure signal has had a few teething problems in the UK but I'm sure as Femtos technology improves then it will be a growth area along with UMA.

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specifics of "Femto" cells

While "femto" seems to indicate the smaller size and smaller radio coverage, to me the main difference of Femtocells is that they use a public data network as the transport back to the wireless operator. Plug them in to your ISP connection at home, and the femtocell will tunnel through the internet back to your provider.

At this point the cost of backhaul is prohibitively large for an operator to provide for femtos. At the same time it means the end user is subsidizing the transport cost (thus the rub as mentioned above.)

Picocells are physically small devices, but use the operator's private backhaul/transport network to get the voice and data packets back to the switching center. In that sense they are like the macro-network but may be physically smaller, offering lower total transmit power and capacity so as to make them mountable on a pole or side of a building, or in a mall, or subway/underground situation.

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Re: specifics of "Femto" cells

Spot on

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Anonymous Coward

Multifunction devices?

I've been wondering for a long while now why we haven't seen a mutli-function device appear that includes switch/router, WiFi and also "femtocell" functionality (it's just another radio, right?)

And in addition, the "Femtocell" capability would not be locked to a single cellular operator, but should be made to work with any of the local cell operators (hell, could it even work with an overseas cell operator so you would make/receive local rate calls, even while abroad visiting friends and using their femtocell?).

Or am I missing something incredibly obvious (apart from cost, which would surely come down with volume manufacture as it did once WiFi became a standard feature in most routers)?

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Bronze badge
Stop

Re: Multifunction devices?

For starters, the box needs to be managed by the operators NOC, this includes configuration data, reporting of alarms and stats, plus authenticating with their security systems. So you'd need to integrate a variety of vendor specific stuff into one management system, which is always a pain in the arse. Yes, you could standardise a chunk of it, but there will still be quirks.

Secondly, most folks this is sold to already have a router of some form, so it's easier to plug this in to that than to provide two different hardware options. Cost is king here - Vodafone are selling Sure Signal at £50 a pop, which I suspect is at a small loss.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Multifunction devices?

Re: Standards - yes, of course, this was assumed. Are you saying that every operator supplied Femtocell is fundamentally different from any other operator Femtocell (other than authentication and server details)? That's just nuts. It should be possible to select one or more operators and for the "multi-function femtocell" to configure itself appropriately, pulling down configuration information from the internet if necessary.

Re Existing routers: I'm not talking about operators providing locked Femtocells to end users at a loss, I'm talking about users *choosing* to install their own box with built-in Femtocell functionality. It's like the Satellite SetTop Box market where you can source your own boxes if you want to, or you can get a crap box from Sky. So from the perspective of users looking to upgrade their current WiFi router and that may have ropey cellular connectivity, a multi-function device that covers routing, WiFi and Femtocell might be more appealing than just a bog standard WiFi router. It wouldn't be supplied by the operator, and would work with all cellular operators simultaneously.

The vast majority of the cost of the Voda Sure Signal will be spent on a separate PSU, separate case, separate motherboard design, manufacture, assembling and shipping. Think how much of the overall cost is actually spent on the Femtocell radio and antennae - probably no more than £5. If someone like Atheros integrated the Femtocell functionality into one of their existing WiFi/router IC designs, the cost would be reduced still further.

So when it comes around to replacing my current WiFi router, if there was such a thing as a multi-function router/WiFi/Femtocell device that could a) give everyone in my property a better cellular signal irrespective of operator and b) possibly save on cellular call costs then I'd be all over the multifiunction device like a rash.

Everyone would be a winner - me, plus all of the operators used by members of my household

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Thumb Up

Femto User Experience

Parts of our house are in a cell black spot and as we sometimes work from home using work mobiles we needed to do something. I bought a Vodafone Sure Signal Femto box back when they had a £20 deal on them. ( £20? if it didn't work hey ho..)

It plugged and played straight into our Netgear router which was already running a VPN pass through which was a nice surprise,

Vodafone allows for 32 registered numbers with 4 concurent connections. which suits our mobiles plus a 3g\Wifi tablet. ( voda website is lousy tho')

A year on the unit has povided pretty relaible service with the handsets reporting HSDPA service levels 90%+ of the time.

My only gripe is the pricing policy. Im providing the bandwidth but the call cost is still the same. Maybe they could come up with an OpenZone style plan, giving me a rebate if I opened the femto to the passing public, with bandwidth controls of course.

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multifunction devices

The Technicolor TG870 does wifi + ADSL + femto + USB connectivity for a media server

http://marcomtelecomms.co.za/WebFiles/Femto/TG870/DS_Technicolor_TG870.pdf

Been around for a while, but never seen one in the flesh.

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Wouldn't be without one

Where we live there is no signal from any of the providers. I've been using the Sagem Femto cell for Vodofone Suresignal for a year now and it is absolutely brilliant. Don't understand why the other providers done bring it out. Just plug it in your network and off you go.

Family and friends that are on vodafone I've set up on it so they have receptions when they are here, others that aren't on Vodafone are switching when their contract is up to also get a box.

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Re: Wouldn't be without one

Femtos will be available on other networks very soon

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Re: Re: Wouldn't be without one

Which will be great, but they aren't now and haven't been for years.

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Happy

Re: Re: Re: Wouldn't be without one

Yes very true and Voda did a good job getting these out, can't speak for all UK networks but i expect/know to see another network release this soon, it's the future VOIP and operators know it. Orange have UMA which doesn't even need the extra box, drawbacks is that it is a bit phone specific at the moment but that will change... have you tried/heard of UMA..UMA vs FEMTO that's a diif subject but anyone want to discuss?

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Anonymous Coward

Does any one else think it's a bit of a waste of time? 4G promises better coverage, and all that that argument entails........

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This post has been deleted by its author

4G ???

There is no 4g yet.

The standards for 4G are a long way off.

LTE is not 4G.

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This post has been deleted by its author

This post has been deleted by its author

This post has been deleted by its author

LTE IS 4G

The ITU moved the goalposts at least 2 -3 years ago so that vanilla LTE met the requirements.

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