MANHASSET, NY -- Vendors are rapidly preparing the LTE technology to meet operator demand as witnessed by 17 manufacturers adopting the APIs for their upcoming LTE products, according to the Femto Forum.
The LTE APIs enable interoperability between LTE femtocell semiconductors and protocol software from different vendors.
The Femto Forumís partial list includes Airvana, AirWalk Communications, Broadcom, Cisco, Freescale, ip.access, mimoOn, Mindspeed, Picochip (now part of Mindspeed), Radisys, Tata Elxsi, Texas Instruments and Ubiquisys.
According to a Informa Telecoms & Media survey, 60 percent of operators believe small cells are more important than macrocells in LTE deployments. Small cells were also the comfortable winner in a Rethink Research survey of the most important features for LTE-Advanced.
ďAs operators plan LTE networks, small cells, including femtocells, could play a critical role in enabling the fastest possible data services in metropolitan and rural public spaces, as well as in private homes and offices,Ē said Alan Law, Chairman of the Femto Forumís LTE SIG, in a statement.. ďThis positive uptake of the Forumís LTE API is one more sign of the growing importance of small cells.Ē
I have been using a 3G femtocell at my house, where Verizon's coverage is weak. So far they haven't offered to upgrade it to 4G for me. I do know that my neighbors sometimes connect through it, so it is definitely not constrained by the walls of my house. My assumption is that part of the registration process is to fit into the frequency plan in my area (it has a built-in GPS which has to get sorted out before it goes active). I had not really been thinking of it in terms of a shopping mall, but that makes sense. On the other hand, if they start popping up in apartments or other high-density housing then frequency use starts getting really complicated, and possibly counterproductive.
It depends on where femto cell is being used. If it is used indoor such as shopping malls, cafes, restaurants, I believe the technology will indeed improve user experience w/o too much difficulty in frequency reuse.
I agree with Larry that frequency reuse can be an issue. However, with proper frequency reuse planning, this issue is minimized. Applications for pico cell abounds in: (1) underground malls (2) subways (3) dead or bad coverage areas. In high usage area such as a downtown core, there is no alternative to deploying pico cells considering the limited frequency spectrum availability.
Fetmocell typically supports 2 to 4 active mobile phones in a residential setting, and 8 to 16 active mobile phones in enterprise settings. You have the potential of running into serious frequency spectrum planning issues except if (1) as Larry mentioned as an extension on the LTE network (2) enclosed spaces where the coverage is marginal such as malls or subways (3) these fetmocells can use low usage licensed bands.
I wonder if there are any manufacturers not on the list?? Does the femtocell range (limited?) enable more connections in a given area using more base stations? I would think that there MUST be a use case for the technology given all the work and device manufacturers involved.
LarryM99: there seems to be ongoing efforts to test LTE networks in dense urban environments. One urban test is in London. Femto Forum may have more info on their success. Recommend to talk to its chairman Simon Saunders: http://femtoforum.org/fem2/aboutus.php?id=224
I can certainly see femtocells as extensions on the edge of the LTE network, but I have a hard time seeing them used in dense urban environments. It seems like the frequency reuse would quickly come to a point of diminishing returns. Am I missing something here?