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Femtocells: A boon to wireless capacity

Posted: 05 Dec 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:femtocell  mobile operator networks  CDMA 

Others will seek to share the cost with the consumer and provide them with additional service benefits such as free talk time or data downloads in the home/enterprise in exchange. Some will use femtocells to enable replacing the wire line phone service in the home. What's clear is that femtocells are being established as part of a very sophisticated network topology, whether it is indoors in combination with afore mentioned wireline and Wi-Fi solutions, or outdoors, incorporating metro-femtocells and carrier grade Wi-Fi solutions into the macro network and picocells, to become a natural extension of the operators' network.

Femtocell discovery
Another challenge requiring some attention is a reliable method for legacy mobiles to discover and camp on femtocells in idle mode and to perform handover from a macrocell to a femtocell in active mode. Operators however, have been reluctant to modify the configuration and planning of their macro networks to accommodate femtocells. Even if the macrocell has good channel quality or the handset is operating on a different carrier on macrocell, it is still desirable to move the device from macrocell to femtocell in order to continue the network service as seamlessly as possible. The reason being that heavy traffic users can be connected on the macro network for a very long time, continuing to consume significant amount of macro network resources before transitioning to idle mode. This kind of adaptability and efficiency is important to ensure the migration of as many users as possible to the femtocell and reduce the traffic pressure off the macro network. This is why Qualcomm recommends that a beacon signal is transmitted on the macro carrier that redirects the mobile user to the femtocell carrier frequency. Beacons work reliably with legacy handsets and do not require any macro changes.

Femtocell power-saving advancements
The power-efficiency of femtocells has also been recognised as a challenge which will impact both residential and enterprise uptake and needs to be considered as part of refining the user experience. Qualcomm has developed its femtocell chipset to be small and consume less than 5W for a residential deployment, which meets EU green guidelines and enables Power–over–Ethernet (PoE) so you don't have to route power from a wall socket.

One device to rule them all
With M2M and the Internet of Everything just around the corner, the next step in this already game-changing technology is merging Wi-Fi and femtocells to create one single intelligent gateway and coordinate the services delivery via either access technology. Recently, we announced the availability of a Femto-Wi-Fi hardware incorporating our FSM9216 enterprise chipsets, fully-integrated system-on-chip (SoC) solution for femtocell development, with the Qualcomm Atheros 802.11n Wi-Fi AR9350 and AR9344 access point solutions.

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