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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Visualizing Femtocells in Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC)

The concept of fixed mobile convergence (FMC) consists of extending all or a part of the services provided by the wireless telecom service provider’s core network to domestic and small and medium enterprise subscribers through the public Internet Protocol (IP) network, taking advantage of the proliferation of wireless local and personal area networks deployments in these scenarios. This convergence will require subscribers to be able to switch an active voice or data session between fixed wireless and mobile networks, ensuring a seamless network transition.

In this FMC context, the deployment of third-generation (3G) femtocells in residential and small enterprise scenarios has been adopted as one of the competing technologies to provide this convergence. A base station router (BSR) femto node is a low-cost and low-power Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) Node B, mainly conceived for domestic use, that admits a limited number of simultaneous communications, and which is connected with the mobile core network through the user’s digital subscriber line (DSL).

3G femtocells will provide solutions to different problems that are facing 3G networks. First of all, indoor coverage will be easily increased. UMTS indoor coverage is much more difficult to achieve than second-generation (2G) coverage, because UMTS typically operates at higher frequencies, making it more difficult to penetrate building structures. In addition to this, UMTS networks are expected to provide services with high throughput requirements, which will need higher signal levels, and therefore indoor solutions will be compulsory. Secondly, femtocells will have associated a better performance in terms of data rate. Unlike macrocells that support hundreds of users, femtocells will support fewer simultaneously active users, and therefore High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) connections will be able to deliver higher data rates per user than in the macro cellular environment. With higher data rates and fewer users, the quality of service requirements demanded in 3G networks within home and office scenarios are expected to be easily fulfilled, enhancing user satisfaction rates. This fact will lead to small femtocells that will be able to deliver a better voice and multimedia quality of experience (QoE). In addition to the obvious voice quality gains attributed to better coverage, femtocells will enable support for a new generation of higher rate voice codecs that leverage fewer users per access point and the proximity of the handset to the femtocell. Finally, operators will get other important business benefits due to the fact that femtocells will relieve the macro network from the indoor traffic that uses a substantial part of the mobile network resources, increasing the overall network capacity and reducing the cost of backhauling traffic to the operator’s core network.

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