France, U.K. become first countries to see all mobile network operators roll out the technology.
O2 and Orange UK, and France’s Bouygues Telecom have become the latest operators to announce femtocell rollouts, pushing the total number of deployments worldwide to 43.
O2 revealed at the Small Cell World Summit in London that it has installed what it claims is the world’s densest femtocell deployment: 1,500 devices in a single apartment building in London. The operator declined to confirm whether said apartment block is the Olympic Village, although that is understood to be the case. At the same event, Orange said it plans to roll out the technology over the summer. Separately, Bouygues Telecom announced plans to offer femtocells to French mobile users.
“Femtocells have now been deployed by 43 operators globally and France and the U.K. have become the first markets where all operators have announced services,” noted Simon Saunders, chairman of the Small Cell Forum, in a statement. “The technology is proving to be a vital tool for improving mobile coverage and increasingly importantly capacity too.”
The news emerged on the same day that Informa Telecoms & Media raised its forecast for global small cell deployments to 91.9 million by 2016, from 62.4 million.
By the end of 2012 the research firm said it expects there will be 6.4 million small cells in service worldwide, with femtocells accounting for 86% of that total. By comparison, the number of macro cells in use is expected to reach 6 million by the end of the year.
According to Saunders, nine of the world’s top 10 operator groups by revenue now offer femtocells. “It’s really hard to find an operator that doesn’t have small cells in their roadmap,” he said.