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Why are Femtocells so little used by operators?

Approved since November 2013 by Anatel (National Telecommunications Agency), through the publication of resolution 624, femtocell regulation is a viable option in mitigating problems of lack of coverage in indoor environments. Already used in other countries of the world, mainly in the United States and Europe, the technology of femtocells, or even picocells, are indicated especially in regions with heavy data traffic. In the US they have the generic name of small cells.

Femtocells are small base radio stations. They have a widely varying watt of power and coverage area and are used in shopping malls, hotels, convention centers worldwide, among others. They make it possible to have a mobile phone signal indoors by “repeating” the signal from outside the structure into buildings.

They basically work by amplifying the signal from mobile operators indoors as a wifi signal router. They are very useful for “illuminating” places where the signal generally drops, such as elevators, underground garages and others. Another common use is in event venues such as concert halls, stadiums, parks, where on specific days there is a throng of thousands.

They are able to install femtocell equipment only the operators of SMP (Personal Mobile Service), or third parties hired by them holders of the license of the Multimedia Communication Service. Mobile consumers cannot be charged for the signal booster service, after all, the service in question is complementary to the one contracted by the carrier, which only has to gain financially from customer access to the network.

Such a limitation exists, as indiscriminate use in homes can lead to harmful interference, which instead of improving the quality of service, would have the opposite effect. Remember that each carrier has a frequency plan and femtocells use licensed frequencies that are an extension of the main network.

In addition to increasing operators’ revenues by allowing more subscribers access to the network, femtocells save a lot of money in acquiring infrastructure towers and time to obtain environmental licenses and permits. Anyway, they are effective and cheap.

If the solution to mitigate technical problems exists, if the world is already successfully used technology, considering that Anatel in October last year already regulated its use, exclusively for operators, because we still do not have femtocells working in large urban centers? Nothing justifies our delay.

Dane Avanzi is a businessman and vice president of Aerbras – Association of Radiocommunication Companies of Brazil.

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