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Femtocell Deployments More Than Double in 12 Months with Strong Growth Beyond the Home

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Deployments of femtocells by mobile networks have more than doubled in the past 12 months, according to a report by Informa Telecoms & Media. The report found that although residential services represent the overwhelming majority of femtocell deployments, the market has also started to see particularly strong growth in the enterprise sector. Almost a third of femtocell deployments now include enterprise offerings, contrasting strongly with the situation 12 months ago when there were no non residential deployments.

In total there are now 19 femtocell deployments globally compared with nine this time last year.

These include six enterprise offerings, two urban deployments from Vodafone Qatar and Telefonica Spain as well as an outdoor rural service from SoftBank in Japan. These demonstrate that operator interest is not limited to residential services alone. Non-residential femtocell services focus on the high-value enterprise market, public places such as metropolitan environments where they provide a capacity boost, and rural areas where network coverage has traditionally been uneconomical.

Furthermore, the past quarter has also seen important progress in femtocell technology. In addition to more powerful models that cover larger areas, new low power USB-connected femtocell designs promise to open up new service opportunities for operators. The second femtocell plugfest also took place, indicating that the industry is close to seeing widespread standardised femtocell deployments.

"While residential femtocell deployments continue to grow we are seeing changes in the market as a whole with operators realising the technology can extend to the enterprise, rural and urban markets. Enterprise offerings are rapidly becoming a standard component of all femtocell deployments. Beyond this, operators have already started to embrace urban femtocells to overcome the coverage challenge, and outdoor designs for rural markets which could also revolutionise developing markets too," said Dimitris Mavrakis, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

Informa Telecoms & Media expects the femtocell market to experience significant growth over the next few years, reaching just under 49 million femtocell access points (FAP) in the market by 2014 with 114 million mobile users accessing mobile networks through femtocells during that year. Healthy growth is anticipated throughout the forecast period with femtocell unit sales reaching 25 million in 2014 alone.

The expansion of the femtocell industry is also reflected in the growing membership of the Femto Forum, the femtocell industry association, which now includes 74 vendors and 61 mobile operators representing over 1.71 billion mobile subscribers worldwide, across multiple wireless technologies (WiMAX, UMTS and CDMA) and accounts for 33% of total mobile subscribers worldwide.

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