To remain competitive in the wireless communication market, vendors and operators need to take the reduction of both network cost and complexity as a priority in future deployments of cellular systems. Moreover, the growth of the indoor traffic forces network operators to compete with existing indoor coverage solutions, e.g. WiFi (Wireless Fidelity), DAS (Distributed Antenna System) to maintain their revenues.
Since 2/3 of voice and 90% of data traffic occurs indoors and because macrocells are not very efficient when delivering indoor coverage due to high penetration losses, providing such coverage has become a challenge for the operators. That is why the use of FAPs (Femtocell Access Points) seems a promising approach for coping with this coverage problem. An FAP is a low-cost low-power cellular base station deployed by the end customer. It is expected that femtocells will enhance indoor coverage, but they will also deliver high bandwidths, offer new services, and off-load traffic from existing networks.
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF FEMTOCELLS
The first interest in femtocells started around 2002 when a group of engineers at Motorola were investigating possible new applications and methodologies that could be used with mobile communications. In addition to developing a mobile television scheme, they also put together a very small UMTS base station.
A couple of years later in 2004, the idea were beginning to gain some momentum and a variety of companies were looking into the idea. In particular two new companies, Ubiquisys and 3WayNetworks were formed in the UK to address the area of femtocells. With the idea gaining momentum, and many more companies investigating femtocell technology, the Femto Forum was set up in July 2007. Its aim was to promote the wide-scale adoption of femtocells. With mounting industry pressure to be able to deploy femto cell technology, the Femto Forum also played a coordinating role in ensuring that the standards were agreed and released as fast as possible.
Here are some of the developments that have been made by specific businesses in the industry: Sprint Nextel. This company teamed up with Samsung Electronics to create a femtocell system that works with all Sprint handsets. A limited deployment of the system was launched in late 2007 in the United States in order to test out the product in the general mobile phone market. This company has a leg up on the competition because it got an early start in trials but itâ€™s also basing this on a 2G system whereas most other businesses are basing their femtocell developments on 3G systems.