The benefits that femtocells might bring to LTE deployments are beginning to centre around users being able to receive peak data rates more of the time, especially inside buildings. The ability of LTE femtocells to achieve this, claims the Femto Forum, is by maximising spectrum re-use and by ensuring power--and network capacity--is not wasted by trying to penetrate buildings.
Presenting the case for femtocells at the LTE World Summit in Berlin, the Femto Forum stressed there was growing evidence suggesting femtocells are essential in order to deliver further improvements in mobile network design, and in the case of LTE, to ensure more subscribers receive peak data rates.
The key points were:
- Femtocells will allow operators to make better use of their LTE spectrum by using the technology to enable the assigned high frequency bands to provide in-building coverage;
- Femtocells can considerably lower the delivery cost per bit through savings in cell site installation, maintenance and backhaul costs;
- LTE femtocells will trigger new services that should provide the environment for downloading and streaming media from the internet or between devices in the home without loading the mobile network; and
- Femtocells will also enable operators to take a new, low-risk approach to LTE deployment that will allows them to build their LTE networks incrementally in line with demand.
However, according to Unstrung, while T-Mobile plans to launch a limited commercial service using femtocells in Germany this year, its senior VP of radio networks development, Klaus-Juergen Krath, has reservation about the technology. He claims there are worries over whether femtocells can scale for a mass market deployment because of some unresolved issues with interference, and the impact on mobile device battery life.
Regardless of these concerns, Motorola announced it would stop any further development of 3G femtocells, and instead focus on LTE. The company claimed trying to integrate 3G femtos into an existing W-CDMA networks was troublesome, whereas the opportunity for LTE femtos looked increasingly attractive.
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