Informa: 3G femtocells ramp up volume, move beyond the home

Informa Telecoms & Media's latest femtocell market status report indicates 3G femtocell deployments are ramping up volume and extending into new markets beyond the home.

The firm counts 37 commercial deployments with regional U.S. operator Mosaic Telecom becoming the latest to deploy femtocells. Telecom Italia announced its plans to launch before the end of the year, and SK Telecom revealed it is set to launch the world's first LTE femtocell service.

A number of operators that have deployed small cells have surpassed 100,000 units, pointing to scalability and mass-market appeal of the technology, Informa said. During the past quarter, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), which was the first to deploy femtocells, said it launched 500,000 units and anticipates exceeding 1 million by 2013.

Moving beyond the enterprise and the home, Vodafone UK recently indicated plans to offer public access rural femtocells that will be constructed on BT telephone poles to bolster coverage in rural areas.

"In the past some people feared that provisioning or cell planning would limit the scale of femtocell deployments. It is now clear that deployments are routinely reaching volume with multiple operators surpassing 100,000 deployed units, and moving towards the millions. In fact, the total number of Sprint femtocells is close to double the total number of conventional US cell towers," said Dimitris Mavrakis, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, in a release. "There are now 37 femtocell deployments spanning 23 countries and 15 further operator commitments."

The firm said there are more 3G femtocells than conventional 3G base stations globally, and Informa forecasts growth to continue with 48 million access points in use globally by 2014.

For more:
- see this Cellular-News article

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