Will Femtocells save us from drop-outs?

Will Femtocells save us from drop-outs?

Summary: Although the carriers tell me consumer demand won't exceed wireless capacity, I don't think I'm alone in experiencing regular drop-outs.

TOPICS: Outage, Telcos

Although the carriers tell me consumer demand won't exceed wireless capacity, I don't think I'm alone in experiencing regular drop-outs.

So is it an issue? On today's Twisted Wire I ask how long we can expect networks to meet demand.

ACMA figures show that 3G use jumped 162 per cent last year. As we become more accustomed to multimedia (on fixed and mobile networks) the growth is unlikely to slow.

In the UK, Vodafone has started promoting Femtocells — home base stations that can provide local coverage, with the traffic carried back across your fixed-line internet connection. It's a way of a network provider to get you to pay for offloading some traffic off their network. Is this a proposition that's likely to work?

For my money, I reckon it could catch on. Provided the hardware is subsidised I think many of us would like to experience higher speeds and continuity of service that we might not experience on our smartphones when we're at home. And we all like a new gadget.

We'll buy a bit of hardware, we just don't like paying more than we have to for an ongoing service. This is a bit of kit that we will happily spend money on that will help keep our wireless data costs under control.

To discuss the growth in mobile data and the role of Femtocells you'll hear from:

  • Nathan Burley, an analyst from Ovum, based in Melbourne
  • Mike Wright, Telstra executive director of Wireless
  • Simon Saunders, chairman of the Femtocell Forum

Tell us what you think. Would you buy one?

Topics: Outage, Telcos


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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  • Femtocells

    Sounds great Phil. Capacity is definitely an issue. Currently, using a 3G iPhone or data card with a laptop in the middle of Sydney CBD during working hours in farcical at best. My guess is that other highly populated CBD's suffer the same "performance".
  • double dipping writ large

    And presumably Voda phone will pay me the retail rates for that data carriage that they were supposed to be providing me over the cellular network (after all that's why I subscrbed to it), that I will be carrying for them?

    I think not.
  • I have a mobile phone that detects &uses wifi

    My smart phone (iPhone 3G, but others work same way) detects usable wifi networks and gives me the opportunity to join them before connecting to the mobile data network.

    Wifi is already available at my two places of highest data usage, home and work.

    Better wifi at strategic locations (train, airports, hotels, ..) would be 99% as effective for me as femtocells. "Better" means good coverage and bandwidth with reliable secure automatic charge back to my work or home broadband accounts.