Editor's Note: Shouldn't performance be the primary concern in any infrastructure development?

( - Vodafone UK’s femtocell launch in July appeared to be a significant breakthrough for the technology in Europe. The timing of the move by such a large operator took many in the industry by surprise, and some vendors have spoken of a significant rise in activity since the launch.

Once a larger player debuts a service, technology or new strategy, others often follow suit fairly quickly. And operators’ reported increase in dialog with femtocell vendors and heightened interest in trials could appear promising for the technology’s future.

However, it seems that there are still a number of sticking points to overcome before many operators consider commercially launching femtocells. Among them are technical obstacles and getting the right business model in place, suggesting that it could be some time before many more products come onto the market.

Pricing appears to be a central concern. Operators cite improved coverage as one of the principal early benefits of femtocells, but some have questioned how much they can charge for the technology when customers already expect operators to provide good coverage.

The price factor raises further questions about the early business model for femtocells, beyond capturing a limited number of early adopters in areas with weaker network coverage.

Other obstacles are in the areas of technology and regulation. A spokesman for Telefonica O2 says, for example, that there is a risk of nonfemtocell users losing coverage when close to a femtocell, and potential interference between the technology and cell sites.

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