Femto Forum rebrands to Small Cell Forum as Ericsson joins board

Telefonica will use Alcatel-Lucent femtocells in Germany

The Femto Forum has announced that it has changed its name to the Small Cell Forum, as it look to bring all outdoor small cell technologies under its umbrella. Small Cell Forum chair Simon Saunders told that the new name would better reflect its work, which embraces residential, enterprise, metro and rural small cells in addition to indoor Femtocells. “There are no hard boundaries between different categories of cells.” Saunders said.

He said that the expanded outlook beyond residential devices had encouraged telecoms vendor Ericsson to join the board.

One of the main areas of focus for the forum moving forward would be to concentrate on improving the handover between different technologies, such as the crossover between small cells and wifi, cloud RAN and distributed antenna systems. It would also focus on the practical challenges around deployment, such as locating sites, delivering power and providing backhaul.

“There are no operators that don’t see a really strong role for small cells” Saunders said, backed up by an Informa survey which said last year that last 60 per cent of operators see small cells as more important for LTE than macro cells.

He also claimed that small cells would be critical in bringing LTE to rural areas thanks to the lower cost of rolling them out compared to traditional macro cells. “It’s simply more cost effective for an operator to make use of a small cell than a macro cell,” said Saunders. “In normal roll-out plans LTE would come to rural areas very late in the day, whereas with small cells you can bring LTE to a small town or village very early in the LTE life cycle. LTE pervades much of what we do technically. In contrast to 3G, when femtos came along afterwards, with LTE we’ve been able to embed those small cell techniques from the very beginning.”

Saunders comments were echoes by Informa analyst Dimitri Mavrakis, who said in a blog post that, “Small Cells – through operator interest, vendor activities and now the Small Cell Forum – will be much more important than femtocells and will be a key component of LTE and subsequent radio networks.”

The LTE World Summit is taking place on the 23-24 May 2012 CCIB, Barcelona, Spain. Click here to register your interest.

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