SoftBank shows the right femtocell move
By giving away free femtocell access point, SoftBank has enhanced femtocell business prospects tremendously. If we go by a recent announcement by Ubiquisys supplying femtocell access points to Softbank, then it appears that SoftBank is offering free ADSL connections as well. This is certainly unique and may force other operators to think about their femtocell strategy.
AT&T, USA & Vodafone, UK have been offering femtocell to their customers but none of them could go this far. SoftBankâ€™s declaration certainly shows a new way of doing business.
Even with free femtocell & broadband connection, operators can still reduce total capex budget by careful planning of conventional networks.
Femtocell provides two big advantages to operators, first enhanced coverage inside residential, office buildings ... second reduced load on their macro network.
To support ever increasing coverage and capacity requirements, network operators keep investing in their cellular infrastructure. A right femtocell strategy could really offer better coverage, reduced capex & increased subscriber base. Cost of installing new base stations includes high equipment costs, location cost, maintenance charges as well, and if it can be avoided with femtocells then surely gains are there.
In USA, one of the argument we have heard about dual charging against femtocell providers. As subscriber is already paying for their broadband service then why they should pay for talk time while using there own broadband. Well, offer free broadband service enough to handle femtocell needs. Users still may go for packages with higher data rates and would be happy to pay difference.
For new 3G/LTE networks, yet in deployment stage, a right femtocell strategy could provide big capex savings in intial rollouts as well. 3G femtocells are in fully evolved state now and should be considered during RF planning. In case of LTE, NTT DoCoMo has already shown interest to begin rolling out LTE femtocells at the same time as it switches on its LTE network, but LTE femtocells will not be available in time. Still LTE femtocells are expected to be ready by 2011 for commercial deployments and would be available for majority of operators for initial rollout.