Sony and Toshiba join Femto Forum; femtocell business case outlined

In a move that could re-energise the market, two of the world's leading consumer electronics brands, Sony and Toshiba, have elected to become members of the Femto Forum. While neither company detailed their femtocell plans, the decision to publicly endorse the concept could indicate the technology shortly will appear in a wide range of home networking and consumer electronics such as TVs and set-top boxes.

Separately, the Femto Forum published the results of a study focusing on how the cost of the femtocell affects the business case and the rationale behind providing heavy data users a femtocell for free. The study, conducted by Signals Research (SR), claimed that:

  • Increasing the wholesale cost of the femtocell by 50 per cent (from US$200 to US$300) only reduced the basic value proposition for femtocells by a modest 16.3 per cent;
  • The cost savings associated with offloading as little as 1.4GB of HSPA data or 1.3GB of EV-DO Rev A data per month via the femtocell from a coverage-constrained macro cellular network would justify an operator offering a subscriber a free femtocell;
  • A European operator wanting to provide a reliable 2.5Mbps in-building service for the most coverage-challenged households, could do so for €320 per household if it used a femtocell strategy, whereas providing a similar in-home service with the means of the macro cellular network alone would cost €900.

According to Randolph Luening, VP of wireless economics at SR, what is evident from the assessment of the femtocell business case is that there is no single factor required for healthy financial returns. "Cost savings, incremental revenue and retention benefits enable femtocells to be deployed successfully with a wide variety of assumptions."

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