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Why 'femtocells versus Wi-Fi' does not make sense
6 February 2008, News

One of the major talking points at recent femtocell conferences has been the question of which technology will take precedence for fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) in the home: femtocells or voice-over-Wi-Fi. ABI Research suggests that this is an outdated view of the market and that a mindset embracing both femtocells and Wi-Fi would provide the ideal solution to support a fuller FMC concept.

Research director Stuart Carlaw, says, "The current focus of the femtocell industry is on supporting FMS (fixed mobile substitution) applications. However, in order to reach the hoped-for 36 million unit shipments per annum, the industry must take a wider view of FMC that embraces multimedia, place-shifting content and a multitude of innovative solutions including home automation and remote monitoring."

Although ABI Research expects the majority of initial femtocell shipments to be standalone products, Carlaw contends that a solution which includes Wi-Fi will be best suited to providing a full array of consumer-friendly services. The absence of Wi-Fi would leave a sizeable hole in the package.

Carlaw goes on to add that, "The home remains the last uncharted battlefield for service providers and OEMs. Any failure to embrace as soon as possible a fuller product specification for femtocells that includes Wi-Fi fails to fully integrate the multitude of Wi-Fi-enabled devices that are currently in a home LAN, and therefore cheapens the value proposition that femtocells can bring to an FMC-attuned carrier. A service plan that includes both Wi-Fi and femtocells spans the full spectrum of mobile and home LAN applications."

Perhaps femtocells are the last big chance for wireless carriers to make their marks as serious players in the home. Failure to fully embrace the femtocell concept could lead to their marginalisation as isolated bit pipe providers.

For more information visit www.abiresearch.com


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