The UK’s first full trial of femtocell technology – which is a new way of improving in-building 3G coverage – has begun an initial period of live testing in February. If successful, the trial will be rolled out to up to 500 users across the UK in the summer.
NEC – a leading provider of 3G infrastructure and handsets, internet and broadband network solutions – is O2’s trial partner and has supplied an integrated solution centred around Ubiquisys ZoneGate femtocells.
Vivek Dev, Chief Operating Officer of Telefónica O2 Europe, said: “This technology has the potential to support increased growth in the usage and consumption of services and data and could play a crucial role in underpinning the explosive growth of mobile broadband usage.”
Dev added: “Our Apple iPhone is already driving unheard-of levels of mobile internet usage, and the introduction of flat rate data tariffs is expected to increase this further. Both of these place huge capacity demands on our networks, and because so much of that usage is at home, femtocells coupled with DSL could provide an alternative capacity resource.”
He said: “We see femtocells as complimentary to our outdoors coverage and, using our current service set as a base, we aim to build applications that our customers need and value. The trial will help us define what is required to make femtocell services a success for our customers by understanding how customers will use the service.”
Vodafone is currently carrying out technical trials in Spain, and anticipates that femtocell technology may potentially enable it to offer its customers highly targeted propositions for the home and office offering enhanced indoor coverage.
Vodafone is also exploring whether the deployment of femtocells could generate greater cost efficiencies through the provision of highly targeted 3G broadband coverage using DSL technology to connect the customer to the core network.
“Vodafone has been driving industry development of femtocell technology, and the trials with Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei are an opportunity for us to assess how much benefit it can bring to our customers,” said Andy MacLeod, Global Networks Director of Vodafone. “Femtocells have the potential to enhance customers’ 3G broadband experience, and the trials are critical to investigate whether the technology can deliver on its promise.”
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