Femtocells World Summit
Last Tuesday, I presented some of the key findings from our recent report Mobile Data Offload & Onload at the Femtocells World Summit in London, which was well attended by delegates from all parts of the mobile industry including vendors and operators. The summit opened with the Femto Forum Chairman Simon Saunders giving us all an interesting overview of the current femtocell market. Here are some key take aways from the rest of the event on Day 1: All the operators were positive about the future for femtocells. Several - Vodafone, Telecom Italia, SK Telecom - gave detailed presentations on the technical and marketing aspects of femtocells. Thilo Kirchinger from Vodafone Group, discussed their stance on femtocells, emphasising the fact that their marketing strategy for femtocells was to keep it as simple as possible for end users. He also highlighted that out of the total global femtocell deployments, 20% had been deployed by Vodafone across different regions. Telecom Italia’s Ferruccio Antonelli announced that they will launch femtocells in the second half of 2011, while SK Telecom’s Tae-Yong Kim announced the company’s plan to deploy over 10,000 hotspots and home APs by the end of 2011 to ease the pressure on their network caused by increasing data usage in Korea with 20% of the handsets being smartphones. Amongst the other operators present, uMobile of Malaysia stated that they expect femtocells to improve coverage, reduce roaming costs and improve data revenue for the operator, while NTT DoCoMo provided us with an insight into how they used femtocells to restore connectivity after the natural disaster in Japan. However, what is yet to emerge from the MNOs is a consistent pricing model for femtocells. Vodafone offers their femtocell product – Sure Signal - for £50 whereas SoftBank Japan offers femtocells free to their customers, removing the cost barriers for consumers and hence encouraging increased uptake among consumers. The benefits of Femtocells are there to be seen - improving coverage and increasing network capacity. The challenge, however is to make them commercially viable and attractive to the consumers.