Success of metro femtos reliant on backhaul

Following a series of simulations and a technical trial in Europe, Vodafone claims metro femtocells could provide a good answer to supplementing LTE coverage. The concept would be to install the shoebox-sized base stations on lampposts to provide hotspot--or MetroZone--services to ensure the expectations of subscribers to 4G mobile broadband are met.

However, according to a report from Unstrung, the feasibility of the Vodafone MetroZone depends on the provision of low-cost backhaul. "The concept is strong," said Andy Dunkin, head of new technologies and innovation for radio access networks at Vodafone. "As an architecture it works for us. But, if we can't crack the backhaul, then it's not very feasible."

He explained backhaul links with capacity of 50 Mbit/s to 100 Mbit/s would be needed to support the small LTE base stations. Ideally, the compact base stations would house not only the radio front end, but also the wireless backhaul, he explained.

Unstrung said Vodafone's Dunkin is looking for a wireless backhaul solution to be developed and called for further industry support to resolve the problem.

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