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Femtocells Are A No Show
And 2010 may not be much better
by Karl Bode 12:23PM Wednesday Nov 18 2009
Telecompetitor directs our attention to a study by ABI Research that indicates that femtocell shipments this year have been well, less than impressive. The technology, which creates essentially a micro-cell tower in the home, helps with coverage issues by allowing users to make calls over their home broadband connection. They're useful to carriers, in that they ease strain on local towers, but so far many operators have done a pretty poor job marketing the devices to users or offering consumer value in pricing models. For whatever reason ABI poo poo's the value issues, and instead blames the recession:
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While some observers say femtocells have yet to prove their value, Kaul points to a combination of other factors: the general economic malaise, which makes the $150 pricetag of an unsubsidized femtocell harder to swallow; the time operators need to get their systems and networks ready for a femtocell deployment and to devise innovative pricing plans; a fear in some quarters that a rapid increase in femtocell numbers would cause interference in the macro network.
It's hard to blame femtocell's slow adoption on the economy or getting the services deployed. Many carriers already offer femtocells but they only offer them to customers who call in to complain about coverage issues. And frankly some of the pricing models are just absurd; Verizon's femtocell pricing plan eats away at your wireless minutes even tough you're making the wireless call over your own broadband connection. Again, where's the value?

ABI predicts things could improve slightly in 2010 for the well-hyped technology, but that shipments will still be 40% lower than earlier predictions. That of course means a shake out among smaller femtocell vendors who actually listened to firms like ABI back in 2006 when they declared femtocells would be the hottest thing in telecom since the Hayes compatible.


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