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Vodafone to ramp up femto role in macro network

24 июня 2010

Vodafone on Wednesday discussed plans to extend femtocells beyond homes and businesses and further incorporate the technology in its macro network.

As well as its U.K. femtocell product – Sure Signal – aimed at consumers and small businesses, the operator recently began selling a Huawei-made femtocell to its enterprise customers in Spain, while Vodafone Qatar has also begun deploying femtocells to boost 3G coverage in public spaces.

"Femtocells can offer an even wider range of solutions," said Kenny Graham, head of new technology and innovation at Vodafone, during Femtocells World Summit in London.

"We can take the same solution and ruggedise it to provide rural coverage in locations where normally it wouldn't be economically feasible," he suggested.

"We see femtocells as complementary to our network rather than distinct from our network," added Nicola Buckley, product manager of Vodafone Sure Signal.

It has been a year since Vodafone UK first unveiled its femtocell product – at the time called Vodafone Access Gateway – that went on sale at the beginning of July 2009 priced at £160.

Six months later the company renewed its push for femtocell customers, renaming the offering Vodafone Sure Signal, slashing the retail price to £50 and embarking on an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at reaching 80% of the U.K. population.

"We really tried to create a bit of a buzz and generate some momentum in the market," said Buckley, who commented that Vodafone's ad campaign included 13 million press inserts and leaflets distributed to 8 million addresses.

The operator also targeted consumers in locations with known indoor coverage issues.

"As much as we invest in our network, there are still challenges with providing coverage in places such as basement flats, or hilly areas," said Buckley.

Still, the U.K.'s advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) last week banned Vodafone from running one of its Sure Signal poster adverts on grounds that it didn't make it clear that customers need a 3G handset and a minimum broadband connection speed in order to use the femtocell.

The ASA also said the operator had not made it clear that Sure Signal is a product that customers are required to pay for.

Despite the ruling, Vodafone's marketing is starting to pay off, said Buckley.

"What we used to sell in a month we now sell in a week," she said, although she declined to provide specific sales figures.

Источник: Total Telecom

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