Having positioned its Sure Signal femtocell product to improve home and office coverage, Vodafone is now planning to use a ruggedised version within its macro network.
The company, which claims retail sales of Sure Signal femtos have recently increased four-fold (although it has declined to reveal actual numbers), said that the technology could be used to provide coverage in difficult areas. "We can take the same solution and ruggedise it to provide rural coverage in locations where normally it wouldn't be economically feasible," said Kenny Graham, head of new technology and innovation at Vodafone.
According to Nicola Buckley, product manager for the Sure Signal product, Vodafone saw femtos as complementary to its network. "As much as we invest in our network, there are still challenges with providing coverage in places such as basement flats, or hilly areas," said Buckley.
Vodafone has also begun to sell the Huawei-made femtos to its enterprise customers in Spain, while its Qatar subsidiary has started deploying femtocells to boost 3G coverage in public spaces.
Separately, new research from Informa Telecoms & Media claims that femtocells are currently being used in 13 commercial deployments, compared with only six commercial launches in November 2009.
The research firm expects the femtocell market to experience significant growth over the next few years, reaching just under 49 million femtocells by 2014. Informa also said that 114 million mobile users will use femtocells to access mobile networks during that year.
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