Femto Forum announces major expansion in China

Forum to open new office to assist femtocell development and roll out as well as conduct major survey into Chinese attitudes to femtocells.

Beijing, China – The Femto Forum, the independent industry and operator association that supports femtocell deployment worldwide, today announced it is to open a China office to help drive the development and roll out of femtocells in the country. The new office will provide information and advice on best practice to operators planning deployments and equipment manufacturers looking to enter the market. It will also work with the Chinese government and regulator in order to ensure the legal environment is primed to maximise the potential of femtocells. The Femto Forum will also be commissioning a major piece of research into Chinese consumer attitudes to femtocells to help operators optimise deployments for the local market.

The decision to open the new office was driven by China’s strong operator, manufacturing and regulatory environment alongside major ongoing mobile broadband rollouts. The fact that the three largest Chinese operators have fixed and mobile divisions means femtocells can be used to maximise existing network resources. The large consumer electronics industry in China suits the growing global demand for femtocells which require high quality mass manufacturing. Additionally the Chinese regulator, the State Radio Regulatory Committee, has previously warmly endorsed femtocell technology.

Femtocells could also perform a major role in supporting and accelerating the ongoing 3G rollout in China by improving indoor coverage and bringing mobile broadband services to remote areas where it was previously not economically viable. In areas where 3G services are already very popular femtocells can also be used to efficiently offload the outdoor network in order to ensure operators can effectively manage the growing data usage while also providing consumers with the best possible experience.

“We’re opening the new office as femtocells could have a major impact on China – equally China with its manufacturing muscle could also have a major impact on the femtocell industry,” said Simon Saunders, Chairman of the Femto Forum. “China’s mobile broadband rollout is one of the largest on the planet and femtocells could have a vital role to play in both extending the coverage area and adding vital extra capacity.”

Consumer research
The Femto Forum has also commissioned a comprehensive survey into Chinese consumer attitudes to femtocells. The research will look into current mobile habits, awareness of femtocell technology, interest in advanced femtocell features and the appetite to pay for such services. The research is expected to be completed before the end of the year. Previous research into the US market found that more than half of US broadband households with mobile phones are interested in femtocell benefits, and are willing to pay for the devices and associated new services. The findings also indicated femtocells can significantly improve subscriber satisfaction and lead many households to consolidate with a single operator.

Global femtocell deployment situation

Overall, there are currently 17 operators that have deployed femtocells and another five that have committed to launch, bringing the total to 22. Femtocell deployments have now also moved beyond basic residential offerings. In Spain, Optimus and Vodafone Spain offer dedicated enterprise femtocell services. While Vodafone Qatar is using public metro femtocells and SoftBank has deployed public rural femtocells. Furthermore, in June NTT DoCoMo, which has already deployed a 3G service, announced its intention to deploy LTE models in 2011-2012.

About The Femto Forum
Femtocells are low-power wireless access points that operate in licensed spectrum to connect standard mobile devices to a mobile operator’s network using residential DSL or cable broadband connections. The Femto Forum (www.femtoforum.org) has been set up to promote the wide-scale adoption of femtocells. It has over 120 members including over 55 operators representing 1,4 billion mobile subscribers – 27% of the global total. The Forum supports and drives the adoption of industry wide standards and common architectures to enable the widespread adoption & deployment of femtocells by operators around the world. It also directs and implements a multi-faceted marketing campaign to raise the profile, drives technology development & deployment and promotes the potential of femto solutions among industry stakeholders, journalists, analysts, regulators, special interest groups, standards bodies and consumers.

Media Contacts
Femto Forum:
Nick Dillon
nick.dillon@femtoforum.org
+ 44 (0) 7725 761 450