News From Telecom World

The driving factors behind a femtocell rollout

Posted on: October 22, 2008

A number of ‘must have’ attributes will enable telecoms operators to implement femtocell technology, and thereby boost ARPU and market share.

Dropped calls, patchy reception or the dreaded no service zone – everyone has experienced one if not all of these inconveniences while talking on their mobile phone. It’s a common, sometimes daily, occurrence for many users, yet more and more people have opted to completely drop their landline and survive with only their mobile phone.

According to a recent European Commission survey of 27,000 homes across the European Union, 24% currently use mobile phones-only at home – a number that’s expected to grow. And we’re already beginning to see how this impacts operator offerings, as landlines are decoupled from bundled services.

Consumers, especially younger consumers, are in part responsible for driving this trend. This group has certainly increased mobile phone usage within the home, and current indoor coverage is not always satisfactory for some wireless networks. This is where femtocell technology comes in. By enhancing the wireless signal, femtocells make dropped calls, patchy reception or “no service” a thing of the past.

Recent Europe-wide research into consumer interest in femtocells-enabled services shows that femtocells are still relatively unheard of with over three-quarters of respondents not familiar with them, However consumer needs combined with operators’ desire to reduce backhaul cost will see them become a household feature by 2009.

Femtocells have been said to be one of the most exciting developments in home networking since the arrival of WiFi and it’s easy to understand why. The adoption of femtocells can lead to an enhanced end-user experience, which in turn will strengthen the operator’s position in the home and enterprise markets.

Consumers go mobile in a traditionally non-mobile environment
According to ABI Research, by 2011 106 million subscribers will utilize 36 million femtocells. This statistic shouldn’t be surprising given the mobile market boom that is occurring. But how do we get there?

According to Mobile Industry Outlook there will be 4 billion mobile subscribers by 2011, many of whom will have increased their mobile usage in home and office environments, making an ideal setting for femtocell rollout.

Consumer benefits will also drive adoption, including:

• High-quality coverage: Once consumers enter their homes, they will seamlessly be connected to the femtocell network. This is especially convenient for consumers who suffer from poor or no service within their homes and are constantly having to battle with bad cell phone reception. Stronger signals will equal clearer voice calls.

• Low-cost voice and data calls: Operators can offer special low-cost ‘home zone’ tariffs. Consumers no longer have to worry about running over their monthly allowance of minutes or having to switch to the fixed phone to save money. They benefit from the convenience of their mobile handset with their personal phone book without being concerned about cost or quality.

• Plug and play: No one enjoys being on the phone with their service provider trying to install their equipment or, worse yet, having to wait around all day for someone to come to their home and install the device. Femtocells installation is effortless with self configuration and remote device management. Consumers simply plug the device in.

• One phone, one contact book, one bill: Convenience and simplicity are two major drivers for any new technology on the market and femtocells will not be an exception. One phone in consumers’ households means one bill and one contact book, and with integration with fixed phone services, femtocells can also provide the ability to answer the fixed phone using the mobile handset.

• Media sharing and data off-load: Femtocells, integrated with broadband home gateways, give consumers the ability to transport their media all around their home between their mobile, PC and IPTV, creating a truly connected home environment.

Operators enjoy greater stickiness
Consumers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from widespread femtocell deployment. Femtocells are gateways to a wireless operator’s network and strengthen the operator’s position in the home and enterprise markets.

Operators will be able to benefit from:

• Reduced churn: Triple and quad-play services are proven ways to reduce churn among subscribers. Femtocells give an operator the ability to deliver enhanced value to the consumer from integrated broadband and mobile services.

• Increased market share: With the ability to offer improved services in the home, femtocells provide operators with the opportunity to attract new customers, since they can attract all the members of a family.

• Network cost reduction: Femtocells provide operators with a lower-cost solution than macro expansion and more targeted coverage. Femtocells use consumers’ broadband connections for backhaul, taking the pressure off the operator’s network.

The requirements for femtocell deployment
Femtocells will deliver home broadband communication like never before by enabling personal devices to perform seamlessly in and out of the home. Initial commercial services are likely towards the end of 2008 or the first part of 2009.

But in order to make femtocells a reality there are a variety of “must haves”. It must be:

• designed as a consumer device capable of meeting the high expectations of a mature cellular subscriber base
• plug and play installation
• low power and self configuring to minimize interference
• integrate seamlessly with existing access networks and broadband home gateways
• capable of being deployed and supported in high volume
• capable of being remotely managed to ensure customer satisfaction and reduce operator costs.

These “must have” attributes are required for any operator to put an end-to-end femtocell solution in place that will increase ARPU, grow market share, and enable partnerships with wireless service providers. Once these requirements are addressed, femtocells will be well on their way to becoming a household name.

Malcolm Latham is senior solutions marketing manager at Motorola Home & Networks Mobility.

Source: Total Telecom


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