Femtocell shipment forecasts cut by 55% for 2009

Despite 2009 being positioned as ‘the year' when operators would start to deploy femtocells in their millions, a leading market research firm has dramatically reduced the expected number that it now believes will ship this year.

ABI Research had previously forecast that 790,000 femtocells would ship in 2009, but has now cut this number by over 50 per cent to about 350,000. The company blames this huge shortfall on mobile operators being slower to adopt the technology than anticipated.

ABI's Aditya Kaul said, "Even femtocell vendors are a bit surprised that the operators haven't pushed femtocells as much or as soon as expected. We expect that deployments in 2010 will pick up but will be slower than expected--our data suggests about a 40 per cent reduction on previous estimates."

Kaul also speculates that the slower uptake of femtocells has been due to ongoing doubts about the value proposition, the poor economic conditions and fears in some quarters that a rapid increase in femtocell numbers would cause interference in the macro network.

"Next year will be critical: if conditions don't improve by the end of 2010, some smaller vendors may find themselves in trouble," Kaul added.

While all the major US operators along with Vodafone in Europe offer femtocells, the US offerings have been criticised for being highly priced, and Vodafone's Access Gateway device has sunk into near total obscurity.

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