Tuesday, March 06, 2012

"Femto" on the ropes

They say bad news comes in threes, and in the last three weeks, femtocells have had their three strikes.

First was the announcement a week before Mobile World Congress that the venerable “Femto Forum” was changing its name to the “Small Cells” Forum. What’s the difference? Primarily that ‘femtocell’ has become a bad word in mobile, whereas Wi-Fi has suddenly become a darling in the industry. With the name change, Wi-Fi and femtos can share the stage under a Small Cell umbrella.

Second, during MWC, Huawei announces they are getting out of the femtocell equipment game. Huawei was an early, aggressive and award-winning player in the femto market, but as Lars Bonderlind, VP of Wireless Networks Marketing explains, "it's very difficult to build a business case with femtocells."

This is brings Huawei in line with industry stalwart Ericsson who consistently played down (or downright dismissed) femtocells, who recently put it’s money where it’s mouth is by buying carrier-grade Wi-Fi equipment provider Bel Air Networks.

Then today the third strike hits – DoCoMo announced it has suspended femtocell 'services'. While they will continue to provide femtocells FREE to certain customers with coverage problems, and they have come to the conclusion that people don't want to pay extra to get add services out of their femto.

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