Femtocells: High growth rate, but years away from mainstream, claims study

While femtocell deployments are forecast to expand rapidly with a CAGR of nearly 130 per cent, they are still several years away from becoming mainstream, states a new study conducted by Berg Insight.

The market research firm claims femtocell shipments will grow from 200,000 units this year, to 12 million units globally in 2014, with success mostly based in Europe, North America and the advanced markets of Asia/Pac. Notably, the report maintains there will be almost six femtocells per macro base station, and the number of users connecting to a femtocell on a regular basis is estimated to exceed 70 million.

However, Marcus Persson, telecom analyst at Berg, said operators should target consumers who will buy the devices for their homes, but warned that femtocells need to bring significant value beyond Wi-Fi to persuade consumers to adopt the technology: "Virtually all PCs and most smartphones are already Wi-Fi enabled and are thus able to leverage the large installed base of Wi-Fi access points available in homes, offices and public buildings." He added that the current surge in 3G data traffic was being generated by users on the move, out of range of both home-based Wi-Fi routers or femtocells.

While femtocell vendors would strongly argue that the interference issue has been resolved, Persson still calls upon the industry to prove that femtocells can be deployed without causing adverse interference. "Femtocells also need to become sufficiently standardised to ensure efficient integration and low cost per unit."

As an indication of the uphill struggle for the femtocell advocates to achieve wide-scale adoption, another survey conducted earlier found three-quarters of Europeans surveyed were unaware of what a femtocell was.

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