Femtocell Technology Maturing, says Informa

According to new research from Informa Telecoms & Media, femtocell technology is experiencing the first signs of maturity, with several tier-one operators deploying the technology using a variety of business models. There are currently 12 service commitments, including nine commercial launches and several ongoing trials, while completed trials are now progressing into deployment plans for several mobile operators. This contrasts with eight femtocell service commitments and six commercial launches in November 2009.
In the past quarter, French operator SFR, Portuguese operator OPTIMUS and Chinese operator China Unicom have commercially launched femtocell services and both Japans KDDI and Frances free have also committed to the technology. Additionally, Vodafone has relaunched its femtocell offering under the Sure Signal brand, and is enjoying considerable success in the UK, spearheading the entrance of femtocell services in the European market. Vodafone rebranded the femtocell service to make the proposition clearer to end users, while differentiating from its competition by eliminating indoor coverage deadspots.
The femtocell market is undergoing rapid growth around the world, with Asia, North America and Europe now having multiple deployments each, says Dimitris Mavrakis, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media. Global operator demand for femtocells is clearly undeniable. The reason for this is simple femtocells allow operators to deliver enhanced coverage at home, leading to an improved user experience that would not be economically viable with traditional network upgrades.
As a result of growing operator commitment to the technology, all Tier-1 equipment vendors have now committed to supporting open standards and actively working on integrating femtocell gateways into their solutions. This is clear evidence of the perceived potential of the market, says Informa. There have also been advances in regulatory frameworks worldwide. Notable examples include the relaxation of regulations for femtocell installations in Japan, and support for femtocells to support mobile broadband capacity by the FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, in the US.
Informa Telecoms & Media expects the femtocell market to experience significant growth over the next few years, reaching just under 49 million femtocell access points (FAP) in the market by 2014, and 114 million mobile users accessing mobile networks through femtocells during that year. Healthy growth is anticipated throughout the forecast period, with femtocell unit sales reaching 25 million in 2014 alone.
The expansion of the femtocell industry is also reflected in the growing membership of the Femto Forum, the femtocell industry association, which now includes 82 vendors and 55 mobile operators, representing 1.4 billion mobile subscribers worldwide, across multiple wireless technologies (WiMAX, UMTS and CDMA) accounting for 27% of total mobile subscribers worldwide.
Informa Telecoms & Media independently researched and produced its report for the Femto Forum. The report will be updated on a quarterly basis and is published free of charge on the Femto Forums website here.