Femto costs outweighed by macrocell off-load, claims Femto Forum study

Mobile operators that are struggling to justify the investment requirements for femtocells might benefit from a new report from the Femto Forum. The industry body claims that the business case for femtos has improved as operators look for methods to better manage the surge in data usage from smartphones.

Research conducted by the Forum by Signals Research Group found that operators can use femtocells to efficiently manage rapidly growing mobile broadband usage while also making a healthy return on their investment--in typical cases by more than ten times.

Other conclusions from the study were:

In all of the 3G and LTE cases studied using a customer lifetime perspective, the macrocell-offload network savings exceed the cost of the femtocell.

Operators offering either 3G or dual-mode LTE/HSPA femtocells are able to realise a return of 10 times on their LTE/HSPA femtocell service investment across a wide range of mobile broadband customers.

A new entrant deploying LTE or WiMAX could dramatically improve customer experience by providing each new subscriber with a femtocell. A study in a major Asian market indicated that an operator could fund such a mass deployment of femtocells by deferring macro cellular rollouts for 36 months in as little as 7.5 per cent of the planned coverage area.

An operator offering 3G femtocells is able to double the customer lifetime value of carefully targeted mobile broadband households.

"This report provides a detailed insight into the operator business case for employing femtocells in existing or new networks. It is now clear that femtocells properly targeted to complement and enhance macrocell deployments represent the most economical means for operators to deliver a managed mobile broadband service that meets subscriber capacity and service quality demands," said Simon Saunders, the Femto Forum's chairman.

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