While AT&T and Japan's Softbank are offering free femtocells to their customers, Ericsson claims that the market for the technology will remain limited due to technical difficulties.
According to Ericsson's head of strategic marketing for Australia, Kursten Leins, the big challenge facing femtocells is spectrum planning and use. The executive maintains that femtos introduce a signal-to-noise ratio that will start to shrink the cell size, and effectively reduces the throughput to customers.
"You could have very clustered use of these services which then effectively means your benefit for in-building coverage is diminished; the end outcome may not be nearly as good as you expect for customers," said Leins.
While Ericsson first released a 2G femto in 2007, the company has failed to introduce a 3G device claiming poor customer demand. However, it believes that the standardisation of femtos for LTE is potentially interesting and could, if requested by operators or consumers, develop a product quickly.
But Leins believes that femtocells could unearth coverage issues that might prove overwhelming. "You have to literally start mapping where the femtocells are," said Leins, adding that as "you start going down to a more granular level, it adds cost to the equation."
While Ericsson is thought to have prototype femtocells that it could rapidly commercialise, the company maintains that operators can address coverage issues by simply increasing overlying cell capacity, particularly in dense, urban areas.
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