Ericsson: No plans for 3G femtocell

Ericsson said it doesn't understand the business case for 3G femtocells. The infrastructure giant released a GSM femtocell in 2007, but said it would wait to see how the market develops in 2009 to see whether it would follow up with 3G version. With 2009 now here, Ericsson said it still is unconvinced, executives said during the company's Capital Markets Day event in Boston last week.

Ericsson SVP and head of business unit networks Johan Wibergh told Unstrung that at this point, WiFi is solving the problem of improving data coverage in the home, while 2G femtocells serve to improve voice coverage. Ericsson also believes there may be interference problems when users install femtocells in dense areas where 3G networks are already running. Wibergh added that 3G femtocells "might be suitable for rural deployments."

While Ericsson isn't planning on developing any 3G femtocells, Wibergh said the vendor will work with carriers to make other vendors' equipment work with Ericsson infrastructure.

However, Airvana recently released the results of a performance test of the company's HubBub CDMA femtocell that revealed the product can significantly improve indoor 3G coverage and broadband performance when compared with an existing macro-cellular network alone. Airvana said a side-by-side test showed a typical HubBub user can expect to achieve broadband data rates throughout the house of about five times that of the existing wireless macro network.

Signals Research Group has also pointed to considerable cost savings associated with offloading data traffic onto femtocells. The firm's recent study finds the costs savings associated with offloading as little as 1.4 GB of HSPA data or 1.3 GB of EV-DO Rev. A data per month onto a femtocell justifies an operator offering a customer a free femtocell.

For more:
- see Unstrung

Related articles:
Airvana demos benefit of femtocells for broadband boost
Study: Femtocell business case depends on how operators target customers
WCDMA femtocell standard official