Small Cell Forum outlines how femtocell deployments can serve large enterprises
Femtocell deployments for small businesses are growing rapidly and this report demonstrates that they can also be deployed successfully in enterprises that require multiple-femtocells as long as the right measures are taken
Mobile World Congress, Barcelona – 28 February 2012– The Small Cell Forum, formerly known as the Femto Forum, today published a guide to enterprise femtocell deployment best practice. The report concludes that although enterprise deployments are more challenging than those in residential and small business scenarios they can be comfortably overcome as long as certain measures are adopted. These measures also support other similar environments such as shopping malls and airports.
The report arrives at a time when enterprise femtocells are becoming increasingly popular and are now included in almost a third of operator femtocell offerings according to a recent Informa report. However, to date these deployments have focused on small businesses. This report demonstrates that, as long as the right measures are taken, the technology can also serve much larger enterprises.
Enterprise femtocells have broadly the same deployment benefits as their residential cousins which include easy installation and use of standard IP broadband backhaul. However, they also differ in several ways. This includes the larger number of users and coverage area; RF interactions between femtocells; mobility and handover from one femtocell to another; and potentially large RF variations inside buildings. This has led to some concerns surrounding potential interference, handover and installation challenges.
The Small Cell Forum conducted detailed analysis, simulations and over-the-air tests and arrived at a consensus between operators and vendors surrounding best practice for resolving these challenges. In order to minimise interference, the transmit power of connected mobiles should be limited; the femtocell coverage region should be kept relatively small (similar to Wi-Fi); and the femtocell downlink power should also be calibrated. As described below, these procedures can be performed automatically, with the help of a simple walk test by an IT technician.
Good voice quality and coverage in the enterprise may be achieved by optimizing hard handover parameters. Additional techniques such as soft handover between femtocells and downlink transmit diversity will further improve voice quality in those areas with high hard handover rates. The report also found that all these measures do not require fundamental changes to femtocell hardware and can therefore be compatible with today’s commercially available femtocells.
The report also concluded that deployments of femtocells in offices requiring multiple access points should follow the well-established enterprise Wi-Fi model. As such there is no requirement for installation by a trained RF engineer, as is the case with other indoor mobile coverage solutions, but should use IT technicians instead. Their role would be to determine femtocell placement by conducting a simple walk test with a mobile phone to check coverage levels.
“Enterprise femtocells are enjoying growing popularity as operators move to ensure their highest value customers always enjoy the very best mobile experience. Not only does the technology allow mobile operators to prevent high value churn, it also allows them to target those enterprises that are dissatisfied with rival operators’ services,” said Professor Simon Saunders, Chairman of The Small Cell Forum. “To date enterprise femtocells have mostly been targeted at small office/home office environments, but this detailed research shows that these can comfortably scale to serve SMBs and large enterprises as long as the right measures are taken.”
The new enterprise femtocell deployment best practice guide is freely available on the Small Cell Forum’s whitepaper webpage here – http://bit.ly/SCF_WP
About The Small Cell Forum
The Small Cell Forum (www.smallcellforum.org), formerly known as the Femto Forum, supports the wide-scale adoption of small cells. Small cells are low-power wireless access points that operate in licensed spectrum, are operator-managed and feature edge-based intelligence. They provide improved cellular coverage, capacity and applications for homes and enterprises as well as metropolitan and rural public spaces. They include technologies variously described as femtocells, picocells, microcells and metrocells. The Forum has 137 members including 63 operators representing more than 1.71 billion mobile subscribers – 33% of the global total – as well as telecoms hardware and software vendors, content providers and innovative start-ups.
Oliver [a t] smallcellforum.org
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