Femtocells to dominate indoor cell coverage

While femtocells were virtually non-existent in 2006, and deployed by only one operator in 2007 (Sprint). A few more deployments followed in 2008, and now In-Stat forecasts they will make up 61% of small cellular base station revenue by 2013.

Microcells, picocells, and femtocells provide indoor cell phone coverage cost efficiently. As mobile operators migrate from larger base stations to smaller access points, the number of units deployed will explode. In-Stat thinks the smaller and cheaper cells will be more immune to the recession, compared with more expensive macro and micro base station shipments.

We expect picocells and microcells to surpass 15 million units by 2013, with worldwide annual femtocell semiconductor revenue approaching $400 million by 2013.      

Sprint was the first to market with a femtocell-based service in 2007, others entered the market in 2008. In mid-2009, Airwalk introduced a new enterprise femtocell. These products have the capacity of a picocell and the ease-of-use of a femtocell, and look like becoming an important segment.