There are well known pull factors shaping the concept of future home gateway. These include the Analog Telephone Adaptor, the IP TV Settop box, the WiFi router, the fixed line broadband modem etc. Where exactly does the Femtocell fit in within this plan? Clearly a customer will prefer only one box at home in the future.
Well, for now Femtocells are definitely going to be standalone products for a lot of reasons. The first reason is the cost. If we are lucky, we are looking at $200 range for a Femtocell and that too by the end 2008. That is just for the 3G radio access component (or even 2G if the Femtocell is designed as such). For the Femtocell market to get started therefore, it will have to be standalone product unless the vendors get the costs down significantly.
Apart from cost the other issue is that the spectrum used in Femtocell is licensed and controlled. It needs to associate itself with a specific cell provider. So who is going to include the broadband router component in it? The broadband service provider? VoIP provider? Mobile operator? Majority of people take one service from one provider and another service from another. And if you lock in a customer to use your mobile service as well as broadband (as well as VoIP), maybe an integrated Femtocell might work then, provided you can afford one.
There are certainly a growing number of operators that offer fixed broadband and mobile services. In France Orange requires you to use their broadband access in order to subscriber to their FMC services. In the UK, O2 is set to launch their fixed broadband service soon. So it could make sense to offer a single device that supports broadband for mobiles, laptops and PCs. This is true across Europe - Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile, Telefonica/O2, France Telecom/Orange, Vodafone-BT.
However, I still think that going forward, Femtocell is likely to be just for mobile phones. And in fact they are just for mobile phones that are on the same service plan as that Femtocell. So for families if you all take mobile service from AT&T that is easy but if you take service from different operators, that Femtocell does not provide any benefit to your family â€¦. Of course some operators will think that the Femtocell will become an opportunity to urge all family members to subscribe to its services!!!
Also bear in mind that in the context of nomadic services, when a 3G radio comes on, it needs to find out if it is even licensed to provide service in that country (so forget about taking such device everywhere you travel). You can't just turn this device on and start communicating. So there are implications in using Femtocell within an integrated home gateway.
It is going to very hard to find significant market that wants to build 3G radio into home gateway. Femtocell is likely to be tied to improving coverage and delivering data services to customers (solving in-home 3G coverage issues). It is unlikely to be a common recurring theme in home gateways.