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Microcells, Picocells, and Femtocells Upside

Mobile service providers have a growing customer base. However, one of the biggest challenges facing wireless subscribers is a lack of indoor coverage, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

The timing of 3G service rollouts is making this problem more relevant, as carriers realize that 3G services will have limited success without addressing the indoor coverage issue, the high-tech market research firm says.

The cost to address these shortcomings with traditional macro base station solutions is too high and not possible for most mobile operators.

"Microcells, picocells, and femtocells address these challenges in a much more cost-effective manner," says Allen Nogee, In-Stat analyst. "By providing smaller and less powerful base stations in smaller areas, like public spaces, offices, and even homes, carriers can provide better coverage in more specific areas without a huge capital investment."

The research covers the worldwide market for microcells, picocells, and femtocells. It looks at the key market players for microcells, picocells, and femtocells and the business case affecting demand. Also included is a five-year forecast for these segments, including regional forecasts.

In-Stat's market study found the following:

- Femtocells, picocells, and microcells are expected to surpass 31 million units by 2012.

- Sprint is the first to market with a femtocell-based service, while mobile operators around the world are trialing the many femtocell products planned for commercial availability in 2008.

- An entirely new device segment is emerging, the Enterprise Picocell. These devices will configure themselves like home femtocells, but for the enterprise business customer.

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