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Femtocell is rapidly emerging as a fundamental technology enabler in the deployment of next generation (3G/4G) wireless network infrastructure. Femtocell is a small cellular base station, typically designed to be used in a residential or small business environment. This access point communicates to the wireless service providers’ network through a broadband connection.

With the help of a femtocell, a wireless operator can improve both coverage and capacity especially in an indoor area, where access would otherwise be limited or unavailable, in a highly cost effective way. This will reduce the carriers operating costs along with its capital expenditures.

According to research firm ABI Research, after a lukewarm first six months of 2012, the demand for femtocell has bounced back in the second half in the U.S. Approximately 2 million indoor base station units were shipped during the said time period. ABI also stated that the momentum for femtocell will remain strong as the wireless operators have started considering this technology as a better network quality to offer.

According to a report in Light Reading, five major global wireless operators are on the verge to install femtocell extensively for their next generation 4G LTE networks. These wireless operators are AT&T Inc. (T - Analyst Report), NTT DoCoMo (DCM), Sprint Nextel Corp. (S - Analyst Report), Vodafone Group plc. (VOD - Analyst Report) and Telef S.A. .

AT&T became the first U.S. wireless service provider to deploy 3G femtocell base station beating its nearest rival Sprint Nextel. The company developed its 3G femtocell using Cisco System Inc.’s (CSCO - Analyst Report) technical expertise. This base station radio is 3G-handset compatible, fully secured, and supports enhanced indoor coverage up to four voice or data users at once and also supports seamless call handover.

In 2013, AT&T will extensively deploy femtocells for its 3G HSPA+ networks. 4G LTE femtocells will be deployed in 2014. Management has decided to install 40,000 femtocells by the end of 2015. On the other hand, Sprint Nextel has been providing 2G CDMA femtocell since 2007 and so far the company has installed more than 1 million CDMA femtocells. Sprint Nextel will deploy 4G LTE femtocells more extensively in late 2013 and 2014.

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