Femtocells for Asia's developed markets

Femtocells for Asia's developed markets

Summary: The communications device has great potential for operators in Asia's saturated mobile markets, says analyst.

TOPICS: Networking, Mobility

Femtocell communication devices may soon be deployed extensively in Asia's developed markets.

A representative from Chinese networking provider, Huawei, has confirmed that it is working with a host of operators in the region--including Japan's eMobile, and StarHub in Singapore--with the expectation of rolling out femtocell deployment "in the first half of 2008".

StarHub did not confirm or deny it was in talks with Huawei, issuing a reply to ZDNet Asia: "We are always on the lookout for new technologies, applications and services that could be compelling and relevant to the local market and which will enhance our customers' lifestyle."

Femtocells, also known as base station access points, improve indoor phone coverage by transmitting cellular traffic over the user's broadband connection. The low-powered devices also work with existing handsets and can support multiple users in the home.

The market is seeing an upsurge in interest in femtocell technology. A recent report from Infonetics Research predicted a ten-fold increase in global sales of cellular femtocell access points within this year, with revenues to cross US$630 million in 2010.

The report also highlighted the Asia-Pacific and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) regions as large drivers of femtocell revenue growth.

However, deployment in the near future may only be seen in developed countries in the region.

IDC Asia-Pacific senior research manager of mobile and wireless technologies/services, Alex Chau, said in an interview with ZDNet Asia that deployment will be limited to developed countries with fixed infrastructure in place.

"The reason for this is because the femtocell needs broadband [to be connected to its] switching center," said Chau.

Developed markets will see competition driving operators to adopt the technology, because of its potential to allow the operators to replace fixed line home phones, reaching more customers, Chau added.

In essence, femtocells provide an avenue for operators in saturated markets to find new avenues to woo subscribers with offers such as new tariff plans. As a result, Chau expects there not to be a need for femtocells in emerging markets "for a few years to come".

According to reports, Japanese communications firm Softbank began trials last year for voice and video telephony and HSDPA (high speed downlink packet access) over femtocells, and expects rollout within the year.

Both Google and Cisco have in the last year invested in British femtocell makers. Most recently, Vodafone also expressed interest in femtocells to increase 3G coverage

Topics: Networking, Mobility

Victoria Ho

About Victoria Ho

Victoria Ho is a tech journalist based in Singapore, whose writing has appeared in publications such as ZDNet, TechCrunch, and The Business Times. When she's not obsessing about IT, you can find her tinkering with music and daydreaming about which guitar to buy next.

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