Major operators back Femto Forum

Major operators back Femto Forum

Big names help push femtocell development

Alcatel-Lucent, NEC, Nokia Siemens Networks and Telefónica O2 have been elected to the board of the Femto Forum.

The independent industry association supports the worldwide deployment of femtocells.

The low-power wireless access points operate in licensed spectrum to connect standard mobile devices to an operator's network using residential DSL or cable broadband connections.

The backers join the likes of Aricent, Carphone Warehouse, Motorola, Sagem Communications and the seven original founding members, Airvana, ip.access, Netgear, picoChip, RadioFrame, Tatara and Ubiquisys, on the board of the Femto Forum.

"Since the launch of the Femto Forum on 2 July, the development of the femtocell industry has continued its unrelenting pace, recently seeing the first commercial deployment," said Simon Saunders, chairman of the Femto Forum.

"The simple proposition of lower costs for operators and consumers, combined with improved coverage and services, is proving compelling.

"Major femtocell vendors and component providers are working with operators to ensure that their products interoperate and meet the necessary demands to ensure successful widespread deployments."

The Femto Forum aims to promote the uptake of femtocell technologies through open standards, market education and ecosystem development.

"With commercial 3G deployments now widespread, the next big challenge is to deliver a consistent user experience and ensure indoor coverage," said Ajay Gupta, vice president of the wireless and convergence business unit at Aricent.

"Femtocells represent a significant opportunity to achieve this. However, bringing these new innovative radio access gateway products to market as quickly as possible is another challenge altogether for the equipment manufacturers."

The Forum has established four working groups to address key issues affecting the femtocell industry: Regulatory, Network & Interoperability, Radio & Physical Layer and Marketing & Promotion.

The Regulatory group identifies benefits and potential issues pertaining to public policy in various strategic markets around the world and works with regulators to ensure a "benign environment for rapid and efficient femtocell deployment".

The Network & Interoperability group is promoting standardised requirements, architectures and interfaces for integrating femtocells into the network core and ensuring multi-vendor interoperability.

The Radio & Physical Layer group is developing standardised radio frequency interfaces, clarifying the various capability classes of femtocells and examining interactions with outdoor cells.

The Marketing & Promotion group is looking at how to best position femtocells within the industry and the wider public, as well as build usage cases, agree common terminology and manage any potential concerns.

"The most successful mobile technologies have always been founded on vigorous open standards, interoperability and a keen understanding of consumer demand," said Saunders.

"The Forum is committed to securing these conditions and working with all major stakeholders to ensure successful and timely femtocell deployment worldwide."