Femto Forum Plans Interoperability Testing

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Aiming to increase operator confidence in femtocells, the Femto Forum plans to do interoperability testing at the end of March 2010, it said on Monday.

Femtocells are small base stations that can improve indoor mobile 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 to a fixed broadband connection.

Makers of femtocells and chipsets as well as manufacturers of the gateways that the femtocells connect to in the operator network will take part in the tests, according to Simon Saunders , chairman of the Femto Forum. Saunders declined to give information on which, and how many, companies will take part in the tests.

The tests will take a look at how well the interface, which has been standardized and is used to connect femtocells to the operators network, works when using a number of different vendors, according to Saunders. The Femto Forum and the vendors will also test security protocols, he said.

The use of femtocells has slowly started with the launch of services in Asia, Europe and the U.S., Saunders said.

Vendor interoperability will give operators the confidence to take the next step and start mass deployments, according to Saunders. That will increase the volumes and drive down the cost of the technology. The interoperability testing will also let operators use a number of different femtocells instead of relying on just one vendor, which is what they do today, Saunders said.

The tests will be done in cooperation with ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute), according to the Femto Forum.

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