The future success of femtocells in Europe has been questioned following the decision by one of the leading developers of the technology, Radioframe, that it would be closing down its European operations and exiting the CPE business.
According to a report in Unstrung, the company admitted it was being "prudent" with its money and was paring back to a core set of businesses "that would take advantage of our unique market position while maximising our use of funds."
This retreat from Europe is being seen by some industry watchers as putting in question the willingness of operators to commit to commercially deploying femtocells in large numbers. Operators in the US and Asia have roll-outs underway, whereas no major European operator has announced anything beyond trials and pilot projects.
Radioframe, which has raised more than US$100 million since it commenced operations in 2001, will close its Dublin head office, but said it would continue to be very active in the US and focus on its femtocell chipset business. The company's femtocell product, a 7.2Mbps HSDPA standalone device labelled the [email protected], is not yet commercially available and has not been deployed in any operator trials.
However, the market research firm ABI claims all is not lost for Radioframe's femtocell strategy as their efforts on the silicon side could still be put to good use. ABI believes the silicon market for femtocells could easily accommodate a few more vendors, much evidenced by the recent entry of Qualcomm. But, to compete with the likes of picoChip, Qualcomm, TI and Percello, all of which have been in the business of silicon solutions for some years, is not seen as an easy task.
Femtocells threatened by new 3G repeaters announcement
Mobilkom Austria pilots femtocells for residential and SoHo
Femtocells: Orange, Starhub and Chunghwa make the pace
T-Mobile unveils 3G/WiFi docking station