Thursday, November 01, 2007

Femtocells get 'boring'

Yesterday, Michelle Donegan with Unstrung posted a story about her experiences with installing and setting up a femtocell. In a word, the story was ‘boring’.

I say it was boring because there was no drama, no complex settings, no difficult radio resource planning, no back end configurations.

Michelle was with the folks from Ubiquisys. And as advertised, she simply plugged in the femtocell and started to use it. She had a relatively boring ‘plug and play’ femtocell experience.

In this ever complex world, a 'boring' femtocell solution is exactly what we need.

Unfortunate UMA’s role in making the femtocell plug and play was left out.

Ubiquisys uses UMA as the femtocell to core network protocol. One of the reasons why it was ‘plug and play’ is that UMA already contains a robust femtocell ‘discovery’ procedure. The femtocell can automatically determine the appropriate UMA Network Controller based on location.

Also, UMA already contains detailed ‘access control’ policy management, so the operator can determine if the femtocell should be enabled for service, and then if a specific handset can use that specific femtocell to receive services.

This is not to take anything away from Ubiquisys. Certainly the RF planning is a very difficult and complex task which they have clearly been able to handle better than most. As Will Franks from Ubiquisys says in the article, “It costs a lot of money to build a box with no buttons.”

But Ubiquisys’s decision to leverage UMA is also part of their plan for simplicity. With UMA, so many of the basic protocol elements such as discovery, access control, security and scalability which are so critical for making a ‘technology’ into a deployable ‘service’ have already been addressed.

Ubiquisys is ready to start selling millions of femtocells way before any of their competitors. This is in a small part to the fact that their back end solution, UMA, already works as advertised.

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