Lets us begin by understanding what Femtocells are and what do they do ? The femtocell looks like a Wi-Fi router and emits radio waves similar to a cell phone tower to provide wireless connectivity. Femtocells can be installed in users’ homes in order to provide in-building or indoor coverage. Femtocells can be 2G or 3G and some vendors are working on multi-mode femtocells that can work with existing handsets.
Most femtocells are constructed based on what is referred to as “collapsed RAN” architecture. The most basic femtos encapsulate the base transceiver station (BTS) or the node B (in 3G) and the radio network controller (RNC). An integrated femtocell, also called as a gateway, also includes an ADSL2+ modem, Wi-Fi router, and Ethernet ports.
Traffic Handling by FemtoCell – The femtocell is designed to be linked to the user’s residential broadband connection and uses this to transmit the traffic back to the mobile core network.
Femtocells in the Context of India – With cellular penetration at around 46%, broadband household penetration under 5%, and wireless pricing well below US$5, it is hard to see femtocells being deployed based on a revenue-driven strategy. However, the scarcity of spectrum provided for operators does make a compelling case for femtocells, selectively.
Bharti Airtel has said that it is a challenge to deploy a building-wide solution (in large complexes and hotels), as this typically involves roofs being opened up and worked on. Femtocells may offer an alternative. Thus carriers in India may find femtocells a handy tool to selectively improve coverage – especially in urban areas. It is safe to say that demand for a device is likely to be limited to a very niche segment of the market, even if marketed. Operators may choose to selectively deploy femto for enterprise and high-value
customers, versus creating a revenue model around it. What Say ?