Feeds

O2 plans commercial femtocells for 2009

Intelligent radios allow for stupid users

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Mobile World Congress O2 is pushing ahead with expanded femtocell trials over the next year with the stated intention of rolling out a commercial product during 2009, reducing their network costs and increasing customer connection speeds all at the same time.

Femtocells are tiny base stations which plug into customers' broadband connection and route calls using VoIP, which can lead to better call quality and faster data connections, although it's really about reducing the cost of network backhaul. They use the standard 3G frequencies and protocols, so work with any handset and can only be deployed by licence-owning network operators.

But they also need to be very clever, to avoid interfering with existing infrastructure and to ensure they're only used within the geographical area for which the network operator has a licence.

The most obvious way to do the latter is by embedding some sort of GPS capability into the femtocell; that's what Samsung has done in the USA for their UbiCell CDMA femtocell (though, to be fair, the GPS is also used for timing purposes). In the UK Ofcom today announced that in-car radar systems will have to do something similar, when approaching any of the UK's five radio telescopes - in-ship GSM systems work on the same basis when approaching shore.

Ubiquisys, the Google-backed company providing the femtocells for O2, along with 12 other trials around the world, provide a technology that listens in to the existing GSM and 3G network signals to establish if the licensee is allowed to transmit here. This provides the additional advantage of allowing network operators to lock the femtocell to one physical location (or more, for a small fee), preventing customers taking their 'cell on holiday with them.

The original idea of femtocells was to provide cheap calls, but with the cost of calling so low there has been a clear shift to data, with O2's chief operating office Vivek Dev citing the iPhone as a clear driver: "Our Apple iPhone is already driving unheard-of levels of mobile internet usage, and the introduction of flat rate data tariffs is expected to increase this further."

Ironically, the iPhone won't actually work with the femtocells O2 is deploying as they are 3G-only devices, but perhaps Vivek is looking ahead to the next generation handset from Apple.

O2 will certainly use femtocells to drive uptake of their broadband offering. Few network operators will risk deploying the technology on ADSL connections they don't own as the quality of connection will be out of their hands – though some might decide it's worth the risk. O2's own DVB-H trials show that nearly half mobile-TV viewing is done in the home, so a large-scale femtocell deployment provides them with the opportunity to become a major provider of video to the home, without all that mucking about with new frequencies and infrastructure. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
Consumers agree to give up first-born child for free Wi-Fi – survey
This Herod network's ace – but crap reception in bullrushes
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
New EU digi-commish struggles with concepts of net neutrality
Oettinger all about the infrastructure – but not big on substance
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.