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Peter Judge reports at Techworld that femtocells, cell base stations for the home, are still far from deployment, but moving along: Femtocells have been two-years-away technology for some time. Rather, the technology is well understood: a cellular carrier can give its customers broadband-backhauled base stations that use licensed frequencies the carrier controls. The broadband may be unpredictable—just like with VoIP—but there’s no issue with interference as there is with UMA (unlicensed mobile access) when Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or other devices are contending for spectrum.
But Judge notes that while vendors have femtocells on offer, carriers don’t have them in live trials yet. At a femtocell conference, he reports on a lot of talk about standards and operator-oriented control tools. There are a lot of issues to be settled, such as will a femtocell allow any user nearby or just the one paying for the broadband? Does their use break ISP agreements on services carried, part of the net neutrality debate?
ABI Research predicted 35m femtocells in use by 2011, but others are dubious, including myself. UMA is a “best-availbility” technology that might wind up being good enough—and which could cost carriers a lot less to rll out to users. Femtocells costs are still quite high compared to comparable Wi-Fi networking equipment, even though femtocells will have lots of advantages for voice users.
Posted by Glennf at July 11, 2007 2:03 PM