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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 

This will allow operators to design access points that let their enterprise customers connect to both Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Currently designed to support 32 active users, it can be scaled down to support residential and home applications or scaled up to suit outdoor urban metro-femto-Wi-Fi combinations or cover larger areas. With over 90 per cent of smart phones equipped with Wi-Fi accessibility, the fusion of Wi-Fi and femtocells onto one platform will help with a variety of service issues: improve connection management and solve mobility issues that plague Wi-Fi handsets; aid network side management, resulting in a combined interactive secure gateway into the home.

This advance will see the ability to manage Wi-Fi as well as cellular traffic. Based on RF channel quality and QoS requirements of different applications, the system can select the most suitable technology (Wi-Fi or femtocell) for each traffic flow. As an example, files transfer may be offloaded to Wi-Fi while a voice call is still made through the femtocell.

Within the home environment, if the femtocell is equipped with location based services, it can recognise individual users and offer them personalised content and apps. The femtocell home zone could know what your favourite TV programme is, and automatically download it onto your mobile when you enter the zone, or allow users to use their phone to control appliances around the home from lights, air conditioning to the TV—all through the femtocell which could also be accessed remotely. The femtocell location-based services can also be used in retail environments where the users can trigger a personalized offer based on their proximity with the store. The major benefit for using femtocells in this use case is that virtually all handsets could be supported without requiring certain applications to be installed or run on the handsets.

Disruptive models for deployment are enabled by the fact that existing wireless networks need new topologies to handle the anticipated demand. The solution of using smaller cells closer to the subscriber results in the incorporation of a large number of smaller cells, with each small cell requiring a backhaul. Since wire line backhaul is a crucial ingredient in this network topology shift, one could argue that we are closing the circle from a wire-line telecom era to a wireless telecom era and now back to a mainly wire-line with last link being a short wireless hop.

- Steven Brightfield
  Director, Product Management
   Qualcomm CDMA Technologies


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