What is a femtocell?

Femtocell diagram

Femtocells are low-power wireless access points that operate in licensed spectrum to connect standard mobile devices to a mobile operator’s network using residential DSL or cable broadband connections.

Why another access device for the home?

Well it’s clear more and more consumers want to use mobile phones in the home, even when there’s a fixed line available. Friends and family usually call a mobile number first, and it’s where messages and contact lists are stored.

However, it is often the case that providing full or even adequate mobile residential coverage is a significant challenge for operators.

From a competitive perspective, femtocells are important because mobile operators need to seize residential minutes from fixed providers, and respond to emerging VoIP and WiFi offerings.

Improving user experience in the home is also essential for reducing churn and gaining marketshare and new revenues. However, high deployment costs ensure that 3G networks rarely extend beyond the regulatory minimum.

Using femtocells solves these problems with a device that employs power and backhaul via the user’s existing resources. It also enables capacity equivalent to a full 3G network sector at very low transmit powers, dramatically increasing battery life of existing phones, without needing to introduce WiFi enabled handsets.

More details available here