I’ve written about femtocells in the past, but not about how impressed I was with some of the early usages for them. However recently there was a writeup in FierceWireless on Comcast’s announcement of their planned deployment of femtocells from Clearwire for reaching new customers and offering them services over the fixed WiMax links to homes. Now THIS makes a lot of sense to me and falls within a couple of well known business models…wholesale network infrastructure for Clearwire and end-user services for Comcast.
Now the question is: What services will Comcast offer over the WiMax link through the femtocells? Certainly voice over IP which they already offer through their ATA boxes for their cable service customers. Internet access? Sure, that’s a given. IPTV? Hmm. Now is where we have to better understand the QoS services Clearwire will make available to the femtocell point-to-point links and if Comcast would invest in an IPTV infrastructure.
My recommendation to Comcast (or any other MSO) is to do a LOT of lab trials given the “success” the industry has experienced with IPTV. I’m currently a Comcast customer and the digital cable, VoD, and other interactive features of their system. I have to say that my experience with cable these days are dramatically different than the early days of cable (“oh, the cable’s out again…so what else is new?”). They don’t want to take 2 steps back with the 1 great step they’ve made with quality of the service and improvement in their brand.
Depending on the number of channels made available to the femtocells, there is also an opportunity to exercise DOCSIS 3.0 over the WiMax link. This affords an opportunity to take advantage of the management over IPv6 in the spec, as well as channel bonding for offering tiered bandwidth services which can be offered to small and medium businesses. There may also be interest for in-home tiered services such as gaming and multimedia services.
To summarize, I think this is a great application for WiMax at this point in time until the notion of mobile WiMax is further vetted and improved (although I’ve heard some anecdotes of impressive experiences…more to come later). I wish the new Clearwire success in helping to bring Internet services to markets that truly have a need for them, and not try to compete in major metro areas where there are already too many choices. Choice is good for competition, but too much confuses the customers and creates a commodity model where the only area left to compete is on price.
BTW, should Comcast be calling the box a CPE as opposed to a femtocell? Maybe it’s just semantics and “femtocell” is a cooler buzzword than CPE 😉


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