Infonetics Research (News - Alert), in the second edition of its biannual “FMC and Femtocell Equipment, Phones, and Subscribers” report, forecasts that fixed mobile convergence, or “FMC,” network element equipment and femtocell equipment will grow to $7.4 billion worldwide by 2013.
Both FMC and Femtocell technologies are primarily focused on providing adequate mobile phone service in environmental circumstances that are less than optimal for the existing cellular infrastructure, Michael Kassner, a blogger, said.
FMC is a dual-mode phone that uses Wi-Fi based networks for interior phone connectivity as well as the normal cellular technology to provide ubiquitous connectivity regardless of the physical location.
Kassner said that femtocell technology, on the other hand, does not require a phone with two different wireless technologies. Rather it uses cellular – 3G – base stations which are connected to the Internet located at building interior locations with poor cellular reception. The 3G phone then transitions between femtocells and the telco’s cellular infrastructure depending on which one provides more optimal RF signal conditions.
Infonetics Research finds that the number of 2G and 3G femtocells sold for use in GSM/GPRS, CDMA, Wireless-CDMA/ HSPA and CDMA2000/ EV-DO networks is expected to increase five-fold from 2009 to 2010.
Security gateways, an important component in FMC networks that are deployed to enable femtocells and dual mode handsets, are expected to top $1.0 billion in 2013, Infonetics Research officials said. These gateways allow mobile operators to offer secure and scalable FMC solutions, including femtocells and FMC/WiFi/WLAN systems.
Economic downturn did not have a major impact on the pace of FMC rollouts, and it has had only a mild effect on the femtocell space, Stéphane Téral, principal analyst for mobile and FMC infrastructure at Infonetics Research and co-author of the report, said.
Major vendors such as T-Mobile USA, Orange, and Rogers Wireless in Canada, and Turk Telekom (News - Alert) have launched unlicensed mobile access, or “UMA,” service in 2009. The number of worldwide seamless FMC subscribers is forecast to grow nearly 10-fold between 2008 and 2013, to 82 million.
According to Richard Webb, directing analyst for WiMAX (News - Alert), microwave, and mobile devices at Infonetics Research and co-author of the report, the lack of a clearly defined business model in the femtocell market is persuading some service providers to postpone launching femtocell services until the market recovers, while others are moving forward.
AT&T is the first operator in the United States to launch 3G femtocell services to improve indoor voice and data coverage, and Verizon and Vodafone (News - Alert) also have launched commercial femtocell services, Webb said. Infonetics Research expects at least a dozen major operators to launch in 2010.
Nokia has increased its lead in the massive dual service phone market in two consecutive quarters, with over a third of worldwide revenue in 2Q09. Samsung, Apple, and HTC (News - Alert) are having tight competition for procuring the second position, Infonetics Research officials said.
An aftermath of recession, worldwide manufacturer revenue from dual mode cellular and WiFi phones dropped 29 percent in the first half of 2009 compared to the previous six months, the study said.
While Femtocell deployments across the world are gaining momentum, service providers are faced with a major challenge of convincing their customers about the benefits of using femtocells.
“Femtocells may have a bright future, but convincing the public they are needed may take some work, especially when customers realize that they are paying for the broadband to power the femtocell,” Allen Nogee, an analyst at In-Stat as reported
on TMCnet, said.