APAC femto leap blocked by macro woes

Melissa Chua
06 Apr 2011
Daily News

The lack of seamless mobility remains a major obstacle to the progress of femtocells in APAC, according to speakers at this week's Femtocell Asia 2011.

Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom has conducted femtocell network trials for two years, but has yet to launch the service commercially due to a slew of regulatory and technical issues, one of which is the inability for smooth handovers to be performed between femto and macro cell networks.

“Co-channel interference between the macro and femto network remains a concern, and more technical improvements need to be made in order to improve upon the user experience,” Chunghwa Telecom president of mobile Shih Mu-Piao said at the event.

Unless full mobility between the femto and macro networks can be reached, femtocells may likely remain confined to the sphere of homes and small businesses.

Vodafone NZ, which conducted several corporate femtocell installations, received a lukewarm response from the enterprise segment.

“It all appeared to be working, but the lack of support between handovers from macro to the femto was a major disappointment as it didn’t meet corporate customers’ high standards,” said Hamish Sansom, head of mobile data at Vodafone NZ.

The corporate sector is a potentially lucrative one for femtocells due in part to dense user populations in CBDs.

Simon Foo, a senior manager at Singapore-based M1 which is still conducting femtocell trials, said high signal loads have traditionally emerged from central business districts, due to a higher percentage of smartphone users in such areas.

Several smartphones deploy a feature known as fast dormancy in order to save battery life, by switching the phone’s RRC state from cell DCH/FACH to energy-saving states such as cell PCH/URA and PCH/RRC when idle.

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