News From Telecom World

Femtocells are business, not consumer solution

Posted on: January 28, 2009

Femtocells are more likely to establish a foothold in the enterprise market, rather than in the consumer segment, according to kitmaker Andrew.

“There is room in the enterprise market for companies looking to improve in-building coverage,” said Andrea Casini, EMEA vice president for sales and marketing at Andrew.

Yet, he said even this approach raises questions about the appropriate business model operators should adopt.

“It depends on the operator’s strategy, because some enterprises might not want to be tied down to a single provider for all of their telecoms needs,” he said.

“Enterprises these days tend to prefer getting just the one bill, and having just one service provider,” he noted, but this is not necessarily a positive thing for the mobile operator, since a business might not want the increased stickiness that comes with adding a femtocells element into their relationship.

Speaking to Total Telecom in London last week Casini said he does not expect femtocells to gain much traction in the consumer market.

“It is unlikely consumers would be able to use their DSL connection to route both their broadband traffic and their 3G traffic because they won’t have the capacity to handle both at the same time,” he said.

“That’s discounting the other issues, like whether customers are comfortable having a base station inside their house for instance… I don’t see how femtocells will pick up in the residential market,” he added.

Casini also said he cannot see a viable model for deploying femtocells as a public hotspot proposition.

Separately, Andrew announced on Tuesday a contract to supply Alcatel-Lucent with wireless equipment to provide network coverage in what will be the world’s longest railway tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

The tunnel is being built by AlpTransit Gotthard, a subsidiary of Swiss Federal Railways, and when completed will stretch for 57 kilometres.

It is expected to be operational by the end of 2017.

“The physical environment in the tunnel represents a challenge because there is limited space, but you need to be able to provide high-speed handoffs because of the speed of the train,” said Casini.

Andrew’s fibre distributed antenna system and radiating cables will be deployed to provide consistent coverage throughout the tunnel.

The airwaves will be open to all of Switzerland’s mobile operators, which will purchase bandwidth from Swiss Federal Railways.

“It becomes a selling point to offer connectivity in such a long tunnel, it’s an opportunity for operators to drive fresh revenues,” said Casini.

Source: Total Telecom

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