Operators drag heels on Femtocells

Although our networks are straining under the increasing demand for mobile broadband, operators are digging their heels in when it comes to helping solve the problem.

According to Cambridge Wireless, households should each have their own means of accessing mobile broadband, which will not only stop the strain we are putting on networks but also increase competition.

It wants homes to be equipped with Femtocells. However, it pointed out operators are not so keen on this idea.

Femtocells are tiny chips that connect to a broadband connection. They work in the same way a wireless network does, through access points, and they are low powered and unlicensed. Cambridge Wireless’ big idea is not popular with operators. Operators are not keen as ultimately it means they are losing money, as we won’t be depending on them for use of their masts. 

The claims come from David Cleevely, chairman of Cambridge Wireless as the company identified the need to take new approaches to cope with the increasingly straining demand for mobile broadband.

The growing trend for cloud services, such as Apple’s iCloud, along with other recent launches of cloud services from Amazon and Google, means the problem will get worse.

This, coupled with all the data rich devices the consumer is buying into, means that the networks are in danger of crumbling.

The crisis means consumers and providers should work together to come up with an answer.

However, companies won’t be thinking about Femtocells until at least later this year or when there is an evident and dangerous strain on these networks, Mr Cleevely told TechEye.  

“There are a range of different things we can do to stop the networks from crumbling,” he said.

“Firstly, providers can optimise the network for a lot more caching so it becomes smarter where it’s storing data. However, this won’t completely solve the problem.

“The next thing is to build more base stations but this is not economic and if mobile operators do this, and buy off more spectrum, this will at best only give them a year’s runway.”

He added that, in his point of view, we should be building a network from the inside out instead of the current outside in.  

“What I mean is that we will buy mini base stations and put them in our houses, and the upcoming UK spectrum means that it’s a great time to do this,” he said.

“Lots of operators, for example Sky, Virgin and BT internet as well as other internet service providers, can then connect people via fixed points and networks and suddenly this drives a hole new load of competition. It’s win, win.”