Femtocells’ First “Festival of Plugging”

In reference to ETSI’s recent “1st UMTS Femtocell Plugfest”, I suggest that we all make a pact to try much harder in the telecommunications industry to not give things such technocratic names like “femtocell” or, in this case, “plugfest”. Are you with me, people?

For those of us not directly involved in engineering, a plugfest is all about interoperability (IOT). It is a communal event where, in this case, makers of Femtocell Access Points and femtocell-related network equipment (e.g., Femtocell Gateways, Management Systems and Security Gateways) ensure that their equipment works together. IOT equals faster deployments and economies of scale, and it also provides operators increased comfort regarding the maturity of a technology.

We at Continuous Computing are proud to have successfully participated in the first ETSI- and FemtoForum-sponsored plugfest for femtocell technology. Personally, I’m even more excited that five of our 20+ femtocell customers participated successfully as well. This is awesome.

The event was a huge success for our femtocell product portfolio, and, more importantly, a big step forward for the femtocell industry as a whole. The 3GPP standards for femtocells are a little over a year old and the industry has rallied around this new standard (Iuh) by rapidly upgrading products and proving IOT at a breakneck pace. In a lot of ways the femtocell plugfest was a ground-breaking event for the mobile industry as a whole. Generally, IOT is proved on a closed basis, either for a specific operator RFP or by a few partners coming together, and not in an open forum event like a plugfest.

In time, the emergence of the open IOT concept for mobile equipment should create a more diverse ecosystem, thereby motivating innovation and offering operators more choice. I do wonder, though, if these types of initiatives will spread into the domain of other mobile technologies, such as LTE, or if it will remain isolated to the femtocell arena. It’s of significant benefit to the operator community, but places an increased burden on the vendors to foot the bill for open IOT.

What do YOU think about vendor plugfests? Please comment below; we’d love to hear what you have to say.

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