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Wednesday, 24 March 2010 16:45

LTE should come from femtocells, Forum says

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The Femto Forum is pushing for femtocells - small cellular base-stations located in a user's home and backhauled over the user's fixed broadband connection - to play a key roll in the deliver of LTE, and WiMAX services.

The Forum, whose aim is the promotion of femtocells, says that its research "found that femtocells provide the best possible LTE user experience and improve the operator business case for the new networks while also offering alternative rollout models and supporting new services."

Telstra has just announced plans to trial LTE technology, but made no mention of femtocells. When iTWire asked CTO Hugh Bradlow in mid 2009 if Telstra had any plans for femtocells he replied that their primary purpose was to either improve depth or capacity of the main network, neither of which was a problem for Telstra.

However he added that femtocells were also emerging as platforms for new applications in the home and as they matured in this direction Telstra would look seriously at them.

The Femto Forum claims to have carried out in-depth radio research which found that "the addition of femtocells to the network allows femtocell users to consistently receive much closer to the headline data rates than those connected to macrocells."

The Forum also commissioned Signals Research Group (SRG) to explore the business case for LTE & WiMAX femtocells. It claims that "The study concluded that macro-offload network savings easily exceed the cost of the femtocell" and that customer lifetime value also increases by two to 10 times in representative scenarios.

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"A sample operator with 10 million LTE or WiMAX subscribers deploying femtocells to 10 percent of their base is able to realise a return on their incremental femtocell investment of more than 10 times."

SRG also looked specifically at how LTE and WiMAX network rollout plans can be impacted by femtocells. According to the Femto Forum, "One strategy explored in the study involves an operator giving away free femtocells to early LTE/WiMAX subscribers in order to provide the best possible experience indoors. The research found that this could be  funded by implementing a delay in macrocell buildout, deferring four percent  to 10 percent of the planned macrocell sites, depending upon the scenario.

"Femtocells could also drive wider uptake of services such as mobile TV which are challenging to deliver widely on the macro network today. They could also enable a new breed of services such as locally streaming HD media around the home while concurrently supporting traditional cellular services. Crucially this can be achieved with guaranteed quality of service for all services unlike alternative local wireless technologies."

The research is available on the Forum's website. https://www.femtoforum.org

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