For years, we've been hearing about LTE, femtocells, and picocells. Analysts repeatedly tell us that it is going to be a big thing. Well, here we go again! This week, Frost & Sullivan projected that the $0.28 billion world femtocell and picocell market will "skyrocket" to $7.72 billion by 2016. In fairness, this new analysis gets some of its legs from the fact that many LTE deployments are using femtocells. Frost & Sullivan says that it expects to see early fourth-generation LTE femtocell prototypes this year, with deployments beginning in mid to late 2012.
3G everywhere? Hardly. I get barely one bar at home, close-in suburbs of a major city, and that one bar is barely good enough for voice. Have to walk up a hill in the neighborhood, maybe 1/4 mile or so, before the signal reaches 3 bars.
Frank asks an excellent question. I believe the answer is, if people install their own indoor femtocells, it makes the job that much easier for the cellco. (I know, this is not a good reason, from a customer's point of view! Unless you give me a break on my monthly fee!)
But also, I don't think that femtocells will be restricted to user-owned indoor cells. I think they will also be deployed outdoors, by the cellcos themselves, in high density environments.
I still don't get it. Wireless carriers expect some consumers & small businesses to purchase their own femtocells so they can have better coverage and higher data rates.
But other consumers and small businesses already have excellent coverage and high data rates and don't need a femtocell.
Why allocate the capex to build out an adequate LTE network to provide good coverage to all of your customers, when you can simply tell those who have inadequate coverage to spend their own money to build out that last bit of the network infrastructure?
Imagine if a cable TV company told the residents of a new subdivision on the outskirts of town that if they want service, they have to dig up the ground and lay their own coax cable to connect to the company's existing network!
My thinking is, how else can we get the extra two-way cellular bandwidth that everyone is fretting we need, for all those smartphones and tablets coming on line?
The cellular concept works because it creates a massive amount of RF frequency reuse. And it can do that because the air interface is very short, so the saem RF frequencies are used over and over again. The whole system hinges on the backhaul network. The air interface is only for the last short distance (often much less than a mile).
So femtocells just take the concept a little further. I think they will be deployed outdoors too, e.g. on light poles, to serve congested urban areas.
I've been hearing about femto since 2008. I live in one of the densest areas of the USA, but draconian HOA covenants make cell towers difficult to build; and hence, my cell-service sucks. So in 2010, I visited my local Verizon store and asked them about femto. None of the sales people there knew what I was asking about. I had to wait for a manager who tried to talk me out of it. Femto will never sell in the US, as long as provider's sales force can't get their %#(*Q@#^ act together.
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