Industry association the Femto Forum said Wednesday that it has made some headway towards harmonising the integration of femtocells into mobile networks.

At its plenary meeting in March, operator members agreed a number of guiding principles for interoperability on the interface between femtocell access points and femto gateways.

Speaking to, Femto Forum chairman, Simon Saunders, said the operator community had agreed on a single definition for the so called Fa interface, allowing a multivendor approach to femtocell infrastructure deployments. Wherever possible, the technology would build on available and recognized industry standards as well as synthesising existing solutions to create a “best of breed technology”.

More intelligence would also be placed in the actual femto device itself, giving it better processing power and optimising the performance, Saunders said.

Meanwhile, the Forum has been accepted as a Market Representation Partner (MRP) with key industry standards bodies including the 3GPP and 3GPP2 as well as having established cooperation agreements with the DSL Forum and the GSMA. Saunders hinted that discussions with representatives of the WiMAX community were also underway, as “femtos offer a lot to the WiMAX community”.

Although these latest developments won’t affect the numerous deployments planned in the short term, operators and vendors have agreed that a united approach in the longer term is essential and Saunders stressed that all existing products are standards-based, they are just not the most efficient implementation.

“The last 3 months have seen a dramatic change in the femtocell market – it has gone from being a vendor led initiative to being an operator driven reality. With a number of major operators around the world announcing plans to deploy femtocells in the next 12 months it is now very clear that they are in the driving seat,” said Saunders.