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Femtocells to solve network capacity issues

Posted: 01 Dec 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:femtocells? network deployments? mobile data?

The upsurge of data traffic is overwhelming the networks of mobile operators. This is according to Qualcomm CDMA Technologies' Steven Brightfield. This trend is confirmed by projections made by major operators with reports of data capacity doubling from every three months (KT/Korea) to 12 months (Vodafone).

If we project these sustained rates of data growth to future mobile network capacity, the current network capacity will represent less than 10 percent of what is needed by 2016. Future network deployments will, in fact, be handling the vast majority of data capacity requirements for mobile network operators. If we were to scale today's mobile network architectures to handle this tsunami of data, the cost to deploy would be too high. Future mobile network architecture therefore needs to change, by not only scaling to handle the much higher data loads, but also by scaling cost effectively so that mobile operators can afford to deploy it.

In this report
??Why femtocells?
??Interference management
??A cellular access point in every home
??Femtocell discovery
??Femtocell power-saving advancements
??One device to rule them all

Why femtocells?
They deliver on the promise of providing the next leap in performance for wireless networks by bringing cell sites closer together, providing coverage, capacity and service delivery platform to subscribers. To realize this vision the industry has had to address the challenges of interference mitigation and mobility requirements from operators and subscribers. But to make this transition, what are the issues that this technology faces? What innovations need to take place? How will they alter the topology of mobile networks and, what will this landscape look like when the roll out of femtocells reaches its apogee?

It is the rapidly rising rate of mobile data which has propelled the development and deployment of femtocells. By 2014, monthly worldwide mobile data traffic will exceed the total for 2008. The pattern of usage has equally inspired this technology with 70 percent of all mobile use in 2008 done whilst at home or in the office. But the most important factor today impacting mobile broadband performance and use is coverage, particularly in rural areas, and the differences between the performances of operators' 3G networks. The mass deployment of femtocells should solve this problem resulting in ubiquitous coverage, indoors and out, with faster connection and download speeds.

What are femtocells?
Femtocells are small base stations that are used in homes. They connect mobile devices to the mobile operator's network through broadband connections. Read more about femtocells on the Femto Forum site.

For operators, the key advantage of femtocells is that they are able to offload resource-intensive over-the-air data traffic onto an IP backbone, reducing both capital (less macro sites) and operational (less backhaul costs) expenditures while creating a branded operator point of presence in either the home or the work environment. As femtocells increase signal strength and provide excellent coverage indoors, they also contribute to a better user experience, with improved coverage/peak data rates and quality of service. As mobile users are offloaded to femtocells, data traffic load and signaling load on the macrocell reduces.

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