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The WiMAX Forum today announced that it has published a standard for 802.16e femtocells. There is a certification drive planned for early 2011, something which we haven’t seen on WCDMA or CDMA femtocells.



While a standard is always good for the general adoption of a technology, WiMAX femtocells haven’t really taken off. There are very few vendors who are actually spending resources building WiMAX femtocells. Few of them like LG Nortel who showcased at last years Femto World Summit in London have seen some trials in Korea and in the US. Samsung did develop a WiMAX femtocell initially but it has since been focusing on the CDMA/LTE femto market ever since. On the operator end, Comcast has been known to be testing WiMAX femtocells but nothing has come out of it. Comcast has a data-only network and so might use WiMAX femtocells for enterprise users. Sprint is the other operator who might be looking at WiMAX femtocells but might use it for voice and residential. The Sprint 4G EVO phone has seen a surprising uptake in the US. Like any other phone or technology EVO users will soon start to notice that their phone doesn’t work as well indoors, which might drive the need for femtocells.



Based on my conversations with mainstream femto chipset suppliers none of them are really going after the WiMAX femto market. The ones that are include traditional WiMAX OEMs who design and manufacture their own chipsets.



With the WiMAX future in question, especially after the recent India BWA auction where LTE seems to be the preferred long-term technology, it is unlikely that the WiMAX femto standard will really help changing fortunes for WiMAX.






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