Femtocells: own cell, own rules

    Femtocells or Femto Access Points are low-power UMTS base stations with a capacity of up to 100 mW. This is a plug'n'play device that, on the one hand, is connected to the operator’s macro network via the Internet (for example, through the office’s local area network), and on the other, it provides cellular coverage within its radius of operation.

    Simply put, this is a small customizable cell that is connected to the operator’s network over the Internet. It can provide special tariffs in its coverage area and provide coverage where it is difficult or unrealistic to obtain it by other methods, plus provide a number of special services. Everyone can use the coating in a row or, for example, according to the list of allowed SIMs. Femtocell is taken from the operator and placed at home, in the office or somewhere else where all these services are needed.

    Home device

    Why would such a thing come in handy for me?

    • For offices (discounts and organization of local telephony)
    • For various events (to improve coverage)
    • For hard-to-reach places (remote objects or network access in the interference zone)
    • In “smart homes”
    • For access control (for example, informing about that the child came from school)

    What are femtocells?

    There are Home Femto for home use, Enterprise Femto for small and medium-sized businesses and Outdoor Femto for outdoor use.

    Here are the indicators for one of the manufacturers of femto points:
    • Home Femto: maximum power 10-20 mW, 4-8 simultaneous voice calls / packet sessions, DL / UL 7.2 - 14.4 / 5.7 Mbps.
    • Enterprise Femto: maximum power up to 100 mW, 8-32 simultaneous voice calls / packet sessions, DL / UL 7.2 - 14.4 / 5.7 Mbps.
    • Outdoor Femto: maximum power up to 250 mW, 16-32 simultaneous voice calls / packet sessions, DL / UL 7.2 - 14.4 / 5.7 Mbps.
    One femtocell can provide coverage of up to 1000 square meters, however, the more partitions / walls in the room, the stronger the signal from the femto-point decays and, accordingly, the range of the femtocell decreases.

    Schematically, a femto network is as follows:

    Coverage improvement

    For both private and corporate clients, the femtocell primarily improves the quality of 3G coverage where it is needed (ground floors of buildings, basements, factory floors, warehouses, offices outside the city), and also relieves subscribers from problems associated with network congestion during peak hours.
    Example: you can deploy such a cell in an office or warehouse without 3G coverage and get it in place.

    Additional services and preferential tariffing

    Femto allows you to provide subscribers with a number of useful additional services, for example, such as a local discount on calls through femtocells. In the “home zone”, determined by the range of the femtocell, subscribers can receive calls at a substantial discount, as well as almost free mobile Internet.
    You can put a honeycomb in the office and call at a substantial discount. If during a call you go outside the cell, the call will still be charged at the point of call start.

    Access control

    Private and corporate clients will certainly be interested in the SMS notification service about registration of certain subscribers in the femtocell.
    Example: a honeycomb may indicate your child’s arrival from school or the time of arrival / departure of employees.

    Synchronization and local social networks

    Based on femtocells, it is possible to implement content synchronization services on mobile and stationary devices, plus provide other services based on technology.
    When a subscriber comes home and registers with a femtocell, all changes made on his smartphone (list of contacts, photos, videos, etc.) are automatically synchronized with a desktop computer through the operator’s appserver and applications on local devices. This is useful for owners of "smart home".


    For corporate users, it is possible to provide PBX services, as well as a number of other office telephony and data transfer services.
    A properly configured honeycomb solves the issues of receiving calls in small call-centers and establishes the rules of transfer, plus implements other functionality of the PBX.

    Corporate femtocell

    Outdoor femtocell

    When can I buy one myself?

    Now femtocell networks are deployed in trial operation in the Central and North-West region; in 2012, commercial operation of femtocells is planned. Also in 2012, subscribers of the Moscow region will have the opportunity to use femtocells.

    At the first stage of the deployment of the femto network, the offer will be mainly focused on improving coverage for corporate clients, while unincorporated subscribers will also have the opportunity to install a femtocell at home.

    As the femto network is deployed, the range of services based on femtocells will expand and the range of femtocells for home users will increase (a built-in Wi-Fi router, TV set-top box will appear). In the future, it is planned to use them for organizing 3G networks - in remote small towns, in areas of the city where it is difficult to organize service with standard base stations, and so on.

    Is someone already using them?

    Yes, femto networks already work with the largest European, Asian and American operators, such as Vodafone UK, Telefonica, StarHub, NTT DoCoMo, Softbank Mobile, Verizone, Sprint.

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