Femtocells are now attracting consumer attention worldwide. While they were initially meant to enhance indoor cellular coverage, it is now clear that their potential utility is much wider.
Femtozone services, that use key attributes such as location and presence provided by femtocells to trigger innovative applications residing on the mobile device, in the access point, the core gateway, or the cloud.
A simple example of the process is a family alert system. A young person arrives at the family home and the femtocell there registers the presence of his or her mobile phone and sends an SMS notification to the parents. Such systems are already in use in Japan.
Other kinds of femtozone applications can turn on lights or activate security systems, while still others can be used to sync content between mobile phones and other devices in the home such as TVs, laptops and media players. Via the mobile network, they can even allow remote access to digital content stored at home.
According to ABI Research about 2.3 million people will use femtozones in 2012, providing revenue of more than $100 million. These numbers rise sharply to 2015, when 45 per cent of femtocell users will subscribe to femtozone services.
According to the research agency, femtozone services will see initial adoption in the Asia-Pacific region, but the North American market will be by far the largest. We think that these applications will take time before they reach India .
Practice director Aditya Kaul says, “Femtozone services will be bundled with femtocell subscriptions and will also be available individually, increasing the perceived value of having a femtocell in the home.”
He further adds, “Eventually, mobile apps available from Apple or Google App stores may be designed to work via a femtocell. The femtozone services market is expected to reach almost $2 billion in revenue by 2015, but operators need to act fast, as the popularity of Wifi/GPS-based applications could pose a hindrance.”
Some of the other technologies like WiBro, which was considered an alternative to Bluetooth was initially ignored by consumers, (however it is becoming popular in machine to machine communication). With regard to femtocells, we fear that lack of operator initiative can lead to a similar fate for the new technology, at least in India.
It will be interesting to see how Indian operators and consumers take to this very innovative piece of technology.