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Monday, December 03, 2007

Femtocell - who coined the term and when?

A fairly tangential question cropped up in a client meeting recently.... how long has the term 'femtocell' been in use? I first encountered 'picocell' as a term in 2001, along with ip.access' use of its brand 'nano BTS'. But femtos are more recent developments, and have also been called 'home base stations and various other synonyms.

PicoChip can claim a Feb 2006 use of the term.

I first had a mention in my blog from Nov 2005. I'm pretty sure I didn't invent the term, though - but I'm struggling to remember who I first heard it from. It might have been a presenter from O2 at a wVoIP conference in Brussels in late 2005.

Anyone got any prior claims?


Martin said...

Hi Dean,

Uh, very interesting question! Sometimes I wonder myself how such terms are coined. At least you own "naked-SIP" :-)

Hopefully somebody leaves a comment and brings us closer to the source


Anonymous said...

I first used it in 2004 but I would not claim to be the inventor of the term - it was just the next one down the list after pico.


alex said...

Not sure about "femto", but Ericsson and Nokia had the first pico base stations in 1999, see e.g. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb5243/is_199902/ai_n20263731

Nokia's InSite was about the size of a laptop.

Milan said...

The term 'femtocell' was probably coined by Motorola engineers in the UK back in 2002 while working on what is known today as the Access Point Base Station (or femtocell).

It was either them...although one of my ex-colleagues did mention that Ubiquisys (Femto-forum founders) coined the term.

Rupert said...


I have been told I coined it, but would agree with Will: it is such an obvious next step I don't think any one person could really 'invent' it and probably a number of us started using the word independently at similar time.

You mention our press release from 3GSM06: the fact we used the term in a news release shows it was already 'mainstream' by then.

We were demonstrating the technology in 2003 but at the time we used phrases 'picocell', 'small picocell' or '3G access point'.

Looking at conference presentations, we had changed to 'femtocell' by early 2005.

All of which said, we did register the URL :)


Rupert said...

As a PS

I just checked my records and in a truly bizzarre coincidence, the first time I heard of the concept of "home basestation" or "3G access point" was on 29th Sept 04

The remarkable aspect was that two independent companies contacted me on the same day with the same idea...

Both had been working on this for quite some time, so I guess honour shared between them.

One was Ubiquisys, the other was Ibis in Bay area who didn't get funded.

We had been talking with ipAccess & Kevab for about a year previous but that was in context of a more traditional picocell. This was also similar to RadioFrame & Motorola's AXPT which were corporate rather than residential.