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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Femtocells - will they really work with absolutely-standard phones?

... sure, they will technically, but what about the realities of the usage case?

I'm just sitting at the Mobile Converged Devices conference in London, and a few people (including myself & a representative of Ubiquisys) have commented about whether femto's might obviate the need for the complexity of WiFi-based dualmode phones.

But listening to some of the operators & vendors presenting, it's struck me that some of the real-world practical issues of FMC will probably apply to femto's - and their users' handsets - as well.

For example - should a handset have a display icon to demonstrate it's on the femto rather than the macro network? An audio tone? Given that many operators are thinking of different tariffs or applications for indoor use, that might be important. Should any of the applications (eg music players, browsers etc) be made aware that speed/price/latency/context (eg indoor vs outdoor) might have changed? Should the user somehow be notified if the femto isn't working (perhaps if it's unplugged when someone's doing the hoovering....)?

None of this is that tricky - but it could shave a few months off the ultimate time-to-market if it's considered now, rather than waiting for the results of a consumer trial & needing iteration at that point.

(BTW - If you're an operator thinking about femtos, and you want to short-circuit the "tuning and tweaking" phase by identifying probable issues upfront, you know who to contact...)

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