Femtocell Standard Is Finalized

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The first femtocell standard has been published by the 3GPP, the Femto Forum, an industry organization involved in the standardization process, announced on Tuesday.

Femtocells are small base stations that can improve indoor coverage and increase capacity. When a user is making calls and surfing the Web with a phone or laptop equipped with wireless broadband, signals are sent via the femtocell and a fixed broadband connection. For carriers they also provide a chance to offload users from the regular mobile network, and save money on backhaul capacity.

The new femtocell standard covers four main areas: network architecture, radio and interference, management and provisioning and security.

The standardization is an important step for the future mass deployment of femtocells, according to Dimitris Mavrakis, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media. It is a major issue that operators are wary about, and the fact that a standard has now been announced will help put their minds at ease, he said.

Mavrakis also said it will help vendors achieve economies scale, which in turn will result in cheaper hardware.

The roll out of femtocells has been slowed by the economic downturn, and many operators may still not be ready from a business perspective to deploy the technology, he said. But the standardization will given operators an incentive to start looking more seriously at rolling out femtocells, according to Mavrakis, who expects some major deployments this year.

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