The femtocell developer HSL claims residential and office environments do not necessarily call for 3G femtocells to provide mobile broadband connectivity. The firm argues that 2G femtocells capable of supporting GPRS/EDGE are more than adequate for providing high-speed wireless connectivity, and Wi-Fi--which is prevalent in many homes or offices--can provide significantly higher data rates at a much lower cost.
The company, which has just announced its 2.75G femtocell product is involved with a number of fixed and mobile operator trials around the world, maintains that its femtocells are being considered for replacing existing picocells because of the latter's cost, size and complexity to deploy and manage. It also claims that this product is the only femtocell available which is able to support both 2G and 3G phones, making the point that 3G femtocells do not typically support 2G.
Regardless of this viewpoint, the Femto Forum has conducted a study that indicates femtocells can generate attractive returns for operators by significantly increasing the expected lifetime value of a subscriber across a range of user scenarios. Even with conservative assumptions, the study found the business case for femtocells was attractive with the customer lifetime value increasing by as much as 125 per cent, and even higher in certain user situations.
The forum described a case in which a European operator wanting to provide a reliable 2.5Mbps in-building service could provide it for US$410 per household if it used a highly subsidised femtocell strategy, whereas providing a similar in-home service by means of a macro cellular network would cost US$1,154.
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