There's been much joy in the femtocell industry this week, as 3GPP has decided on a standard architecture for connecting HSPA femtos (they call them Home NodeB's) into the network. This should make life an awful lot easier, given that there have been assorted proprietary and semi-standard approaches suggested up until now. The consensus among operators is that standardisation is mandatory for widespread large-scale deployments.
The output is a hybrid of the UMA/GAN approach advocated by Kineto, and some of the other "RAN Gateway" approaches advocated by the likes of ip.access, NSN and others. It's called the Iuh interface, and it's pretty much kicked the IMS/SIP approach into the long grass for the medium term, at least for 3GPP networks - although that architecture is more likely to be adopted by CDMA operators.
This is in the latest version of 3GPP's specifications, Release 8.
So far, so good for the femtocell proposition.
But unfortunately, the picture is likely to get a little murkier. I've been working for some time on what's going to be a rather controversial report. This post is a bit of a teaser before its publication in the next week or two.
In a nutshell, I think that one of the fundamental assumptions about femtocell business models has serious flaws.
Although existing "legacy" 3G handsets can work with femtocells, they are not optimised for them. There are some enhancements also likely to be in 3GPP Release 8.... and quite a lot of other considerations outside R8's scope that the vendors, and the standards and requirement-setting bodies haven't considered yet.
If you're interested in getting a heads-up on "The Argument for Femtocell-Optimised Handsets", keep an eye on this blog. And if you pre-register your interest via email at information AT disruptive-analysis DOT com, I'll let you know as soon as the full report is published.