SMALL CELL, BIG IMPACT
Saturday, May 05, 2012
In Russia, mobile data traffic is projected to grow 18-fold from 2011 to 2016. This increase in demand requires cost effective solutions that improve not only capacity but coverage as well. For this, many operators are turning to femtocell technology. Femtocells are small low-power wireless base stations that connect to mobile networks using residential DSL or fiber connections and can support multiple standard mobile devices. Femtocells deliver a strong signal and high-quality voice service to standard mobile devices in homes, small and large offices, outdoor public spaces, metro hotspots and rural areas. While the market is still quite young it’s quickly gaining popularity. According to ABI Research, 37 operators launched femtocell services in 2011 globally.
The original target market for femtocells was residential, but now operators are focusing on enterprise femtocell solutions to boost indoor network coverage, mobile data capacity, and mobile voice call quality for business of all sizes. This is particularly relevant for MTS given that 80% of MTS network traffic is indoor traffic. In 2011, MTS installed around 130 femtocells for corporate clients in Moscow and St. Petersburg from which they are benefiting from ensured quality coverage and fast internet within buildings where mobile coverage is poor or lacking.
Most recently, MTS launched special tariff plans to promote femtocell usage. These pricing plans allow corporate clients to cut their mobile bill by up to 40%.
In addition to being cost-effective, femtocells offer flexible and powerful solutions. Flexible insofar that a number of femtocells can be combined in a mini-network, and handover between macro-network and mini-network is seamless. There is no need to obtain special permission from regulator or owners of the building, so installation is easy. And powerful insofar as one femtocell provides coverage of up to 1000 square miles with speeds up to 7.2 Mb/s. Given the range of benefits, we only expect the market for femtocells in Russia to grow in the coming years.