Informa: Free femtocell offers spurred by increased competition

Mobile operators are increasingly offering free femtocells to remain competitive, according to a new study by Informa Telecoms & Media.

This move, according to Informa, is being pushed forward by operators responding to rivals that have launched chargeable femtocells, and the sharply falling costs of the technology as economies of scale and competition among femtocell vendors increases.

In its latest femtocell update, the UK-based market research firm says that femtocell services are currently available in 23 countries around the world, with nearly half of these having multiple operators offering the technology.

Informa analyst Dimitris Mavrakis said that the majority of countries with competitive consumer femtocell offerings include at least one operator who offers the devices free of charge. Currently, subscribers in France, Japan, Russia and the U.S. have access to free femtocells.

"We are seeing evidence that once one operator deploys femtocells in a market there is strong pressure on its competitors to offer a rival service," Mavrakis said in a statement. "This competition is in turn starting to drive free femtocell offers as operators look to differentiate their services. These free offers have become commercially viable as the costs associated with femtocells start to fall due to vendor competition and economies of scale."

The Informa study claims that over 2.3 million femtocells are in operation in homes, offices and metro environments today, and is forecasting this number to rise to 48 million by 2014.

Separately, one of the pioneers of femtocells, ip.access, has announced its nanoGateway 200 platform that allows operators to add 3G capability to their existing ip.access 2G femtocell deployments. Commenting on the launch, ip.access founder and CTO Nick Johnson said: "Our nanoConverge solution will make small cell network planning, upgrade and roll-out easier and more economical for operators all over the world."

For more:
- see this Informa press release
- see this ip.access press release

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