T-Mobile to test femtocell interop - for 6 months

Having conducted numerous trials and commercial pilots, T-Mobile has confirmed that it will now test femtocell interoperability over the next six months in its German labs.

The company said it had signed an MoU with Ubiquisys and Huawei to use their femtocell technology which will communicate using the 3GPP's new Iuh standardised open interface. The tests will see the Ubiquisys femtos connected to a Huawei femto Gateway into T-Mobile's core network.

The three firms said the MoU is intended to pave the way for operators to select standards-based femtocells and femto gateways from multiple vendors, in the knowledge that they will be fully compatible with each other and their core networks.

According to Jürgen Krath of T-Mobile, the company was an active member of the Femto Forum and the standards bodies. "We have completed comprehensive femtocell trials with Ubiquisys and Huawei, and we have made a strategic investment in Ubiquisys. These interop tests will demonstrate for the first time that femtocell interoperability is becoming a reality."

Commenting on the MoU, Will Franks, CTO and founder of Ubiquisys, said, "To reach their full market potential, femtocells must be more like mobile phones--interchangeable with the network they connect to. As a pioneer in this industry, we designed our femtocell from day one to connect to multiple femto gateways, ready for the introduction of a 3GPP standardised interface."

However, this move by T-Mobile must question the role of the Femto Forum which claims to have conducted interop tests, and trigger doubts within other operators as to the wisdom of deploying femtocells until T-Mobile has completed its tests.

Meanwhile, Vodafone UK and SFR in France continue to offer their femtocell products and services to their customers--albeit in a near-invisible manner.

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