When will the femtocell revolution happen?

Industry analysts are queuing up to promote their latest reports on the state of the femtocell market. All agree it's going to be a big market, the problem is when--it was going to start late last year, then during the first half of 2009, now it would seem 2010 is when 3G femtocell cells will ship in volume.

This slippage is nothing new for the mobile industry with many (all?) new technology advances experiencing delays. ABI Research recently blamed the global economic downturn for operators' lack of enthusiasm for deploying femtocells, but predicted shipments would climb well above a million units in 2010. That's assuming, I guess, that the end of the recession is in sight by then.

Meanwhile Infonetics Research claimed 2008 was a breakthrough year for femtocell standards with the industry consensus around the Iu-h standard. The firm also points to the information gathered from extensive trialling and market research by operators having led to greater confidence in the market-readiness of femtocells. This last statement might be challenged given that the major operators have run numerous trials (and delayed more than a few) and have yet, publicly, to give their whole-hearted approval to the business model or firm deployment timescales.

While femtocells can provide real benefits to operators and consumers, these continued delays provide the opportunity for rival technologies to make an impression, or for operators to lose interest in the opportunity as fresh challenges present themselves. Femtocell advocates must, somehow, unglue the technology from this mire, and kick-start the revolution. -Paul

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