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Femtocells doomed, but WiMAX a winner

05 декабря 2008

Gigaset said Thursday that femtocell technology lacks any kind of viable business model, and will fail to gain any meaningful traction in the consumer market.

The DECT handset maker, which was spun off from Siemens at the beginning of October, said the only realistic application for femtocells is in an office environment.

"Femtocells will die after a short while because there isn't a business case," said José Costa e Silva, CEO of Gigaset.

Speaking to Total Telecom, he said that only "hardcore" mobile phone users will be prepared to pay for femtocells.

"They make more sense in offices and high rise buildings where coverage is poor and people are using mobile phones for work, but not in the home," he said.

Costa e Silva said he expects consumers will be sceptical of having what is essentially a mini base station in their houses.

"Everyone hates those antennas when they're on the roof, so why would people feel comfortable with one in the room where they sleep? It doesn't matter how femtocells are marketed, people will get round that," he said.

It is partly for these reasons that Gigaset also believes that fixed-mobile substitution will only take place on a small scale.

"We see a small amount of substitution in younger age groups, and that is mainly down to pricing reasons," said Costa e Silva.

Even then, the company commented that fixed-line services, especially broadband, still have a future in most markets.

"In the U.K. there is a lot of copper in the ground and prices are still coming down," said John Smith, managing director of Gigaset's U.K. and Ireland operations.

"Mobile broadband is great for nomadic users, but in-building coverage is still an issue... I don't expect to see anyone coming in and building out a WiMAX network," he said.

Some expect WiMAX to struggle to carve out a slice of the market; however, Gigaset said it still expects some countries will adopt the technology.

"In five to 10 years I would say the mobile infrastructure market will be 70% based on 3G, UMTS, LTE, and another 25% will use WiMAX," said Costa e Silva, explaining that the remaining 5% will be comprised of niche technologies.

"Russia didn't invest much in 3G early on, so there are possibilities there, as well as other countries in Eastern Europe," he said.

Gigaset's WiMAX focus remains on the CPE side of the market. It is working with operators on WiMAX projects in Pakistan, and the U.S. with Sprint Nextel.

"Great technology comes down not only to the infrastructure but the consumer proposition, and with WiMAX the consumer proposition is there," said Costa e Silva.

Источник: Total Telecom

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