Operators want femtocells

The hype surrounding femtocells reached a fever pitch in 2007. These router-sized mobile home base stations promise to solve the many shortcomings faced by existing WiFi/cellular fixed-mobile convergence services and enable operators to offer consumers high-speed data, VoIP and voice services in the home with reduced infrastructure costs. Operators had begun talking about their trial plans, while Sprint launched commercial services in two markets.

The Femto Forum, an industry group advocating femtocell technology, was born this summer with a handful of smaller vendors, but closed out the year with some 40 members that include Alcatel-Lucent, NEC, Nokia Siemens Networks, Motorola, and ZTE. Operators have also joined the ranks: Bharti Airtel in India, Bouygues Telecom, Carphone Warehouse Networks, Orsacom Telecom and Telefonica 02.

Still, there's much work to be done before femtocells can become a widespread reality. Chief among them are lack of standards, network integration and cost assumptions.