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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?

As operators upgrade their LTE networks from the initial Release 8 macro deployments, they can support femtocell deployments in a coordinated fashion utilizing the X2 and other signaling messages defined in the subsequent releases of the LTE specification.

A cellular access point in every home
The femtocell landscape is changing as operators develop new business cases for femtocell deployment. One trend that we anticipate is the integration of femtocell technology into existing consumer networking products, such as WiFi access points, set-top boxes and integrated access devices. Every operator will have their own business model for deploying femtocells and these will evolve over time, depending on the operator's technical and business needs. Some may choose to subsidize the full cost as they are off-loading capacity.

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

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 WiFi solutions, or outdoors, incorporating metro-femtocells and carrier grade WiFi 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 recognized 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 5 W for a residential deployment, which meets EU green guidelines and enables PowerCoverCEthernet (PoE) so you don't have to route power from a wall socket.

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