Femtocells to make breakthrough in 2012, claim researchers

While many operators continue to ponder the benefits of femtocells, a new study claims that revenues generated by femtocell deployments worldwide will reach US$4 billion by 2014.

The market research, undertaken by the Dell'Oro Group, forecasts that 62 million femtocells will ship in 2014, with the real breakthrough taking place in 2012 as operators ramp up their commercial deployments starting next year.

Accepting that only around one million femtos will ship this year, Dell'Oro claims there are currently 14 commercial femtocell deployments globally, and many operators are running trials with the aim of commercial launches in 2012.

According to Loren Shalinsky, an analyst at Dell'Oro Group, North America is expected to have the highest shipment volume in 2010 due to the three largest operators having already launched commercial femtocell services. "However, as more operators in EMEA begin deployments in 2012, we forecast shipments to this region will surpass those of North America."

However, Dell'Oro's hugely positive shipment figure is significantly higher than the 49 million units Informa Telecoms & Media forecasts for the same period. Also, many previous estimates for the rapid uptake of femtocells, and operator enthusiasm for the technology, have proven to be wildly optimistic.

Vodafone remains the only major operator in Europe that is aggressively marketing its Sure Signal femtocell offering with some success--albeit that the product is heavily subsidised by the company.

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