09 Mar 2011
Choosing Wi-Fi, femtocells or both for network offload
The network offload options are simple: Wi-Fi, femtocell or both. Not surprisingly, Saunders believes femtocells are the most natural fit for offloading tablet traffic, but Wi-Fi works well for certain kinds of traffic.
“These technologies are not locked in mortal combat,” Saunders said, adding that Wi-Fi is particularly useful for carriers offloading over-the-top (OTT) Internet traffic where there is no incremental [monetary] benefit to handling it.
He sees additional femtocell benefits because “femtocells come with authentication and can handle voice, data, text and other services you can buy from an operator,” he said.
Tablet traffic or not, subscribers are beginning to understand why operators need to offload broadband traffic from their radio networks since spectrum is a finite resource.
Both Sprint and T-Mobile have 3G/4G network offload solutions in place. Sprint has embraced femtocells as a solution for consumers with coverage problems and is evaluating large femtocell deployments to offload traffic larger areas.
“A femtocell is nothing more than an extension of coverage; it’s a great vehicle for the home and office,” said Jay Bluhm, Sprint’s vice president of 3G network development and engineering.
“Femtocells also have backhaul advantages because they provide coverage for both voice and data and are tied to the customer’s broadband connection, so basically the customer provides the backhaul.”