Around 2.5 million femtocells were shipped worldwide this year according to ABI Research, substantially less than the three to four million previously expected. An increase in femtocell commercial operator contracts - a total of 88 in 2011 - had led to expectations of increased shipments.
From those 88 contracts, 37 mobile operators have launched femtocell services. Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent both have 27 operator contracts, while Ubiquisys has 28 contracts through devices it produces in partnership with NSN and NEC.
However, it’s the Cisco/ip.access and Airvana/Ericsson partnerships that are shipping the largest number of femtocells, accounting for 55% of total shipment volumes between them.
Aditya Kaul, practice director for mobile networks at ABI Research, said “With two of the 37 femtocell operators making up 55% of the shipments, the risk is that the market will lose its momentum if the status quo doesn’t change. Femtocells are still largely used as Band-Aid solutions by most operators to cover up coverage holes. While operators like SFR in France are attempting to move beyond the Band-Aid proposition and use it as a competitive acquisition tool, the market needs many more SFRs to carry the momentum forward and achieve true mass-market status.”