Femtocells may boost more than just cellular coverage, study finds

Femtocells will soon be able to improve home security, personal safety and help integrate smartphones with TVs, laptops and media players, in addition to improving cellular coverage in the home, ABI Research said on Monday.

ABI foresees a future where children arrive home from school, the femtocell registers the presence of their mobile phones and sends out SMS notifications to the parents. Applications may also be able to turn on lights or activate security systems, while others can be used to synchronize content between mobile phones and TVs, laptops and media players, according to ABI.

The common theme is that the applications all take advantage of user presence and location. Femtocells are small base stations, and they know when a registered user is in its coverage zone, which the applications in turn can take advantage of.

So far, mobile operators haven't been able to take advantage of the application revolution on smartphones. But femtocells could give them a much needed boost. However, the operators need to act fast, as the popularity of Wi-Fi and GPS-based applications could pose a threat, according to ABI.

ABI isn't the only market research company that thinks the popularity of femtocells will grow. Operator momentum has continued to grow over the past three months with deployment announcements in North America, Asia, Australia and Europe, Informa Telecoms & Media said in December.

In addition to that, semiconductor heavyweight Broadcom entered the market through acquisitions, "bringing considerable mass consumer electronics clout into this network infrastructure business", according to Informa.

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