Small cells

WiFi vs. Femto cells

Both Femtocells and Wi-Fi offload do solve the backhaul issue by using customer or 3rd party links. (DSL, DOCSIS, T1/E1, WISP or otherwise).

Femtocells are tiny mobile cellsites using the mobile operators' licensed spectrum, supporting all handsets and all services. Thus femtocells are a great way to extend coverage. If you want mobile voice service in a place where macrocell coverage is poor, a femtocell could be ideal. However, that's the only place where femtocell's have the advantage.

As a solution for mobile data capacity, Wi-Fi wins, because of the following reasons:

  • Most mobile data is destined for the open Internet, and WiFi is exactly designed for that
  • Laptops and notebooks have Wi-Fi connectivity. Half of smart phones have Wi-Fi already and the percentage is rising rapidly
  • Wi-Fi access points cost less than femtocells
  • Wi-Fi access points are showing up everywhere
  • Home and the office. Enterprises will not install Femtocells as the IT department can't control them

That's why we think that eventually Wi-Fi will trump Femtocells, especially now the problems related to seamless integration in carrier networks seems to be solved by various wireless network equipment vendors.

WiFi integrated into the carrier network

The carrier Wi-Fi space is red hot right now, driven by the explosion in demand from mobile operators using Wi-Fi to augment their 3G/4G deployments and offload a portion of mobile data traffic to unlicensed spectrum.

But that offload is not always a smooth experience for users, because traditionally Wi-Fi has been treated more as a separate network with the device attaches to Wi-Fi under its own control.

Therefore wireless network equipment vendors are now launching a suite of software and hardware aimed at integrating Wi-Fi into carrier networks where Wi-Fi, LTE, W-CDMA and GSM are managed from one platform. This real-time traffic steering solution is a network software upgrade that constantly assesses performance indicators in both the 3G/4G network and the Wi-Fi network to find the best connection for the user. Besides that these solutions also provide support for access selection to enable load balancing between 3G/4G and Wi-Fi networks.

Besides this some operators are rushing to deploy Wi-Fi access points in desirable locations, often with the intent of replacing them down the road with dual mode 3G/Wi-Fi and LTE/Wi-Fi small cells, which is even further accelerating the pace of Wi-Fi deployments.

The LTT Business Consulting approach

Because WiFi offload will open up a whole new world of service capabilities, it is of paramount importance to determine those services that will lead to maximum customer satisfaction and loyalty, and related incremental revenues.

Because LTT Business Consulting has extensive experience in the Telecom industry, covering most of the Telecom technologies and players in the value chain, we have the necessary holistic approach based on which we can offer you the best possible advice in this area.