Femto Forum looks to agree on 4G/WiMAX integration standards

In an effort to ease the pain of deploying comprehensive 4G or WiMAX networks, the Femto Forum will work with the Next Generation Mobile Network Alliance (NGMN) to agree to standards for femtocells to become part of the overall network architecture. According to Peter Meissner of the NGMN Alliance, femtocells could transform how next generation mobile networks could be deployed. "For example, femtocells could be employed using higher frequencies to deliver high bandwidth requirements inside buildings. This is expected to enable operators to use the scarce lower frequency spectrum to provide good quality coverage across entire markets with the minimum number of macro network cells."

Behind this agreement is the real need to hold 4G network deployment cost down and gain subscriber adoption. The Forum claims that providing early adopters with a femtocell and a handset could quickly boost adoption and start the revenue stream while the rest of the network is still being built. This idea would appear to be what Sprint has in mind for its WiMAX deployment in the US, where Comcast will be providing broadband connectivity to customers' homes and a WiMAX femtocell will provide coverage there.

The NGMN would also like to see 4G networks using some of the technology that femtocells rely on. The ability to self-configure and grab spectrum based on local usage, for example, is currently unique to femtocells but could be scaled up and applied to the whole network for quicker deployment.


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