Femto Forum adds new members

The Femto forum, formed in July of this year to help promote the cause and further the development of the femtocell market, has added roughly 30 new members, including several service providers. Among the new additions, Telefonica O2, Alcatel-Lucent, NEC and Nokia Siemens Networks have been elected to the board.
Other new members include:
* Aricent
* Azaire Networks
* Bharti Airtel
* Bouygues Telecom
* Carphone Warehouse Networks
* Celcom
* Continuous Computing
* General Communication Inc
* Kineto Wireless
* Mapesbury Communications
* Mavenir Systems
* MobileOne
* Motorola
* Orascom Telecom
* PCCW Mobile HK Limited
* Pirelli Broadband Solutions
* Rakon
* Rogers Wireless
* Reef Point
* Sagem Communications
* SerComm
* Sonus Networks
* Starent Networks
* Thomson
* Unwired Australia
* UTStarcom
* ZTE Corporation
These members join the seven original founding members: Airvana, ip.access, NETGEAR, picoChip, RadioFrame, Tatara and Ubiquisys.  
Simon Saunders, Chairman of the Femto Forum, said femtocell technology has been developing on the shoulders of a handful of companies—the original seven members of the Femto Forum, but that it needs the support of an ecosystem to take the next step. “There were a number of innovative vendors that saw the potential benefits early on, but it needed an ecosystem to make sure that standards are at the very heart of this effort, and that the efforts is driven by the operators,” he said.
While the forum has drawn an impressive array of wireless network operator members thus far, wireline operators remain in the background. Because licensed spectrum is required for femtocell deployment, it’s more likely an option for wireless carriers and vertically-integrated wireline/wireless operators. But, Saunders said the potential of femtocells may influence the strategic course wireline-oriented carriers take.
He said the capability to deliver wireless coverage in the home off a DSL or other broadband access line may drive telcos with both wireline and wireless properties toward closer integration and partnership, even though those units traditionally follow their own courses in many companies. “It could be further impetus in some companies to bring those two pieces together, though many of them are already moving that way,” Saunder said.
Also, for wireline carriers without wireless properties, partnering with wireless carrier may become a more attractive option. “I think it’s highly likely that those kinds of partnerships will become more attractive.”
In addition, if wireline network operators still feel a little left out of the femtocell evolution, Saunders reiterated that femtocells will drive more traffic over their wireline networks, and that the backhaul capacity their networks provide is an important part of the femtocell scenario.
As part of its new membership announcement, the Femto Forum also said ithad established four working groups which address the key issues affecting the femtocell industry: Regulatory; Network and Interoperability; Radio and Physical Layer; and Marketing and Promotion. The working groups have worked over the past three months to agree the key issues to be addressed to ensure the rapid and effective deployment of femtocells to support a wide variety of customer propositions and operator business models. 
From the forum press release: “The regulatory group identifies regulatory benefits and potential issues pertaining to public policy in various strategic markets around the world and works with regulators to ensure a benign environment for rapid and efficient femtocell deployment. The network and interoperability group is promoting standardised requirements, architectures and interfaces for integrating femtocells into the network core and ensuring multi-vendor interoperability. The radio and physical layer group is developing standardised RF interfaces, clarifying the various capability classes of femtocell and examining interactions with outdoor cells. The marketing group is looking at how the industry should best position femtocells within the industry and to the wider public, build usage cases, agree common terminology and manage any potential concerns.”