A femto in every living room?

Staff Writer
Telecom Asia

With just one commercial 3G femto service in play, most Asian operators are content to stay on the sidelines

With the launch of Vodafone UK's service on July 1, femtocells have caught the industry's attention.

In Asia, while StarHub launched the world's first 3G femtocell service in Singapore last December, most carriers remain on the sidelines.  NTT DoCoMo plans to launch a service in the fourth quarter, while Telecom NZ has trialed femtos.

At this early stage, and in the absence of any information from StarHub, it is difficult to measure progress.

But European analyst firm Berg Insight estimates femtocell shipments will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 127% to 12 million units worldwide in 2014.

Definition & business model

Femto cells are 3G/3.5G base stations installed in customers' homes either to improve in-home coverage, reduce network load and/or enable low-priced or value services via backhaul access through a broadband modem.

The attraction for consumers is the potential improved coverage and lower prices and the ability to use increasingly-clever mobile devices for fresh services in the home environment at little extra cost.

For operators, femtos offer competitive advantage and churn protection as well as the ability to offer richer services at competitive prices to home users.

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