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Femto Forum broadens focus, changes name

Wed, 02/15/2012 - 2:15pm
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

The Femto Forum today announced it will no longer answer to that name, but rather to the Small Cell Forum. The change is aimed at including all varieties of small cell technology, including residential, enterprise, metro and rural small cells.

Simon Saunders, chairman of the Small Cell Forum, said his hope is that the name change doesn't come as much of a surprise to anyone who knows the forum's work. The organization has spent the past five years developing a base for the femto technology, which Saunders said is really the key component in a wider range of small cells.

"The technology includes the chipsets, the standards, open interfaces, and all of the pieces that make femto cells cost-effective and technically deployable for operators," Saunders said, adding that confusion has arisen within the industry around the boundaries between different types of small cell technologies and whether certain segments are in competition with one another.

From the Small Cell Forum's point of view, the whole range of small cells are appropriate within different environments, and all have been markedly improved by the advent of femto technology.

Saunders said that with femto technology honed, the forum can now open its focus to the total 4.3 million small cells, of various kinds, forecasted to be shipped in 2012. While indoor small cell deployments account for 90 percent of shipments, 65 percent of revenue will come from outdoor deployments, he said.

Given its new name and policy of inclusiveness, the Small Cell Forum will take what it has learned in the femto space and apply that to helping operators deploy other small cell networks.

In the coming year, the forum will look to spread best practices to operators while helping them to create scalable management systems. And, of course, the issue of backhaul solutions top of the list, as well.

Last but not least, Saunders said that in the short term, emphasis will be placed on developer outreach.

"The APIs we're developing are enabling developers to actually create services that run particularly well on small cells and are enabled by the location capabilities, but where the developers don't actually need to know the underlying technical details," Saunders said.

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