Femto Forum Gives Way To The Small Cell Forum

Analyst Blog

Feb. 15, 2012, 6:40 a.m.

The Femto Forum has rebranded itself to the Small Cell Forum , although I genuinely think that it’s come slightly late in the day. Most of the vendors in the Femto Forum have long past rebranded their own marketing messagesto include small cells as a part of the larger discussion. However, it’s good to see that the there is a general acceptance of the term ‘small cells’.

In fact we at ABI Research sparked off debate back in 2009 when we suggested a Super Femto concept, which could be argued as being a one of the first steps of decoupling femtocells from the basic residential play and probably a precursor to the term small cells. Back in early 2011, we were also one of the first few analyst firms to rebrand our own femtocell research service to include the larger small cell opportunity. We got instant acceptance from our existing clients and have since been getting a lot of interest from a much wider ecosystem of vendors and operators.

But apart from blowing our own horns, yes this does allow the industry to move on past the terminology debates and get to the more serious business of getting standards and interoperability in place for the wider small cell family of solutions. Also it’s a good one-stop shop for anyone in the public arena wanting to know more about small cells in general.

To most people its basically an umbrella term that incorporates femtocells, picocells and microcells and to an extent Wi-Fi as well. These could be indoor or outdoor small cells. And there lies the clue – outdoor small cells (or as we used to call them metro cells) are getting all the attention these days.

While the Small Cell Forum is committed to continue the preaching the virtues of indoor small cells, it’s the outdoor small cells that will take most of their attention and energies, I presume.

One thing that will be interesting to follow is if the traditional DAS and repeater folks will also start to borrow the term small cells, while it is still hot.Although I don’t think the Small Cell Forum is too eager to further wider their scope. There are architectural and philosophical differences in the two ecosystems and its better that they remain separate.

In any event, this officially marks the beginning of the small cell era.