In telecommunications, femtocell is a small, low-power cellular base station, typically designed for use in a home or small business. Femto cell is very light and compact. It connects through DSL or coaxial cable. It is set up in residential areas. Due to its light and compact size it has a powerful control over the mobile networks.
It is in between the consumer and cellular operator. It finishes the gap between the consumer and the cellular operator. It maintains proper bandwidth. It gives a proper coverage in the real areas. It has a better voice quality.
These are an alternative way to deliver the benefits of Fixed–mobile convergence (FMC).This architecture is dual mode. It’s a two way system. The two way system is necessary uploading and downloading of messages. Many operators have launched femtocell service, including Vodafone, SFR, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Verizon, Zain, Mobile TeleSystems, and Orange.
In 3GPP terminology, a Home Node B (HNB) is a 3G femtocell. A Home eNode B (HeNB) is an LTE femtocell.
Typically the range of a standard base station may be up to 35 kilometres (22 mi), a microcell is less than two kilometers wide, a picocell is 200 meters or less, and a femtocell is in the order of 10 meters, although AT&T calls its product, with a range of 40 feet (12 m), a "microcell". AT&T uses "AT&T 3G MicroCell" as a trade mark and not necessarily the "microcell" technology, however.
Quality of service
When using an ethernet or ADSL home backhaul connection, an Access Point Base Station must either share the backhaul bandwidth with other services, such as Internet browsing, gaming consoles, set-top boxesand triple-play equipment in general, or alternatively directly replace these functions within an integrated unit. In shared-bandwidth approaches, which are the majority of designs currently being developed, the effect on quality of service may be an issue.
The uptake of femtocell services will depend on the reliability and quality of both the cellular operator’s network and the third-party broadband connection, and the broadband connection’s subscriber understanding the concept of bandwidth utilization by different applications a subscriber may use. When things go wrong, subscribers will turn to cellular operators for support even if the root cause of the problem lies with the broadband connection to the home or workplace. Hence, the effects of any third-party ISP broadband network issues or traffic management policies need to be very closely monitored and the ramifications quickly communicated to subscribers.
A key issue recently identified is active traffic shaping by many ISPs on the underlying transport protocol IPSec.
Mode of functioning
Femtocells are sold by a mobile network operator (MNO) to households or gives solution for enterprises. A femtocell is typically a residential gateway. The residential gateway helps in connecting with nearby areas simplifying the bandwidth. It connects with the web based interface provided by the MNO or mobile network operator.
Benefits for users
The main benefits for an end-user are the following:
•“5 bar” coverage when there is no existing signal or poor coverage.
•Prices are fixed according to coverage and call rates provided by the telecom operator.
•Enterprise users can use single go mobile facility and also using contacts in one in all.
•Improved life-time battery services which keep charged on a longer duration.
Femtocells can be used to give coverage in rural areas.
Simplified version of traditional Node B and Home Node B (3G femtocell) in 3G architecture
Three major elements of Femtocell are:-
1.The femtocell access points themselves, which embody greater network functionality than found in macrocell basestations, such as the radio resource control functions. This allows much greater autonomy within the femtocell, enabling self-configuration and self-optimisation. Femtocells are connected using broadband IP, such as DSL or cable modems, to the network operator’s core switching centres.
2.The femtocell gateway, comprises of a security gateway that terminates large numbers of encrypted IP data connections from hundreds of thousands of femtocells, and a signalling gateway which aggregates and validates the signalling traffic, authenticates each femtocell and interfaces with the mobile network core switches using standard protocols, such as lu.
3.The management and operational system which allows software updates and diagnostic checks to be administered. These typically use the same TR-069 management protocol published by the Broadband Forum and also used for administration of residential modems.
Major issues to be addressed
Femtocells is a complicated technology and there have been a number of issues and concerns, although as deployments have increased these have largely been addressed.
The placement of a femtocell has a critical effect on the performance of the wider network, and this is the key issue to be addressed for successful deployment. Because this technology uses the same cellular system such as the conventional cellular system that lots of mainstream telecom service providers use it. It’s a complicated technology with lots of hurdles, especially when talking of India, with a smaller bandwidth and spectrum availability. Most of the spectrum is used by the DTH and other conventional mobile service providers such as Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance or Idea.
There is good system to track any errors in the flow of networks. It is done in every country but India lacks in this respect. China has already succeeded in doing this. Japan already has taken this technology. India has different government policies, which keep this wonderful technology away.
Here is the chart depicting the introduction of Femtocell technology in some countries.