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FMC and Femtocell Reaches Anticlimax

The hype surrounding fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) and femtocells continues to grow, but it is likely that neither technology will live up to expectations, according to the latest study by In-Stat.

There is much interest in fixed-mobile service (FMS) enabled by femtocells and FMC among consumers, with the promise of more convenience and lower costs, the high-tech market research firm says.

Femtocells are micro-base stations designed for home use that support mobile connectivity over the broadband facility. FMC uses Wi-Fi-enabled routers and handsets to carry mobile calls over a broadband connection.

"In-Stat believes that by 2010 the FMC and femtocell market segments will evolve to form a new fully-converged services market segment," says Keith Nissen, In-Stat analyst.

Current unlicensed mobile access (UMA) and IMS-based FMC services, which emphasize cheap phone calling, will be marginalized. Likewise, operators that deploy femtocell-based services using the same cut-rate calling value proposition will be short-lived. Converged services that emulate the home telecommunications experience will emerge because they will be more highly-valued by consumers than are individual services.

The research provides detailed analysis of the FMC, FMS, and femtocell markets. It presents forecasts for dual-mode cellular Wi-Fi handsets, UMA and IMS FMC subscribers, as well as subscribers to femtocell-based services. In addition, the report presents primary research findings that confirm strong consumer interest in FMC and FMS services. The evolution of FMC and femtocell services and the emergence of fully–converged services are examined.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- By 2011, over 53 million session initiated protocol (SIP)-enabled mobile handsets will ship.

- New UMA subscriber additions will peak in 2009 at approximately 3.5 million.

- By 2011, over 100 million consumers will have access to femtocell-enabled gateways.

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