Feature Article

June 22, 2011

Getting My Call Out of the Gutter

In case you are not a regular reader let me tell you about my issues with Femtocells. 

First of all, let’s talk specifically as to what kind of femtocells- see, there is the technology and the implementation. The technology includes companies like Airwalk and the recent announcements from TI at FemtoWorld.

From my perspective, Picocells and Femtocells that are enterprise driven make more sense, which is why Bridgewave is speaking about Picocells in Austin in September at our 4GWE Conference.

IMHO a device in the home that will connect to my broadband network and backhaul to the wireless operator is a mess of confusion. 

1)      In effect, it is over the top by a wireless operator on my landline operator. Since only roughly a third of the world uses the same service provider for both wireline and wireless, this means my wireless operator wants to deploy coverage and leave it to my wireline operator and me. In some countries there are rules about must carry / naked DSL services that are probably being violated here.

2)      The systems are deliberately configured (last I heard from the standards people) to be closed to the family / carrier they serve. So if your family has more than one wireless operator (like professionals on a BlackBerry and kids on pay as your go plans) you are going to have to do what? Multiple boxes?

3)      You probably already have a device in your home supporting WiFi and it’s entirely likely the device the femtocell is supporting is WiFi enabled. Why does a new box need to be had at all and what are the possible problems in placement? I trust my WiFi box to be a hub as well? Does a Femtocell come before or after? Does the fact that I am NATing numbers cause a problem? What about my firewall? You get my drift.

So in the original discussion of a session I chose the title, Femto, Pico and Repeat.

I am going to tell you right now I like repeaters.

And while it took me a while to get there in this article, I would suggest a repeater embedded in gutters would be a very cool idea. If you want me to spend money augmenting your network, giving me a solution that connects to my roof like the adjunct box from power, cable, etc, it makes sense to me.

And here is a news flash; you don’t have to make it exclusive to me. You can serve my neighborhood with it as far as I am concerned. So now the home system is not about a retrofitting of my home network, but my house. I admit that a bridge may have to be created that connects the gutter to the inside of the house, but at least it would be associated with the same network.

Unfortunately, I have not heard of this being built yet, and the repeaters that have been discussed with me for the home have not been as appealing. One step up from burglar alarm tape. 

So for the time being my call is out of the gutter.

Want to learn more about 4G wireless technologies? Then be sure to attend the 4GWE Conference, collocated with TMC’s ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. The 4GWE Conference provides unmatched networking opportunities and a robust conference program representing the wireless ecosystem. The conference not only brings together the best and brightest in the wireless industry, it actually spans the communications and technology industry. To register, click here.


Carl Ford is a partner at Crossfire Media.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca


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