LONDON, UK - The Femto Forum, the independent industry association that supports femtocell deployment worldwide, today announced that it has received widespread vendor support for a comprehensive interoperability testing program to validate the new 3GPP femtocell standard.
The program will begin with the '1st Femto Forum UMTS Femtocell Plugfest' which is set to take place in March 2010 in co-operation with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
The program will demonstrate how effectively the new standard facilitates the interoperability of products from different vendors. In turn this will provide operators and consumers with greater interoperable equipment choice from multiple vendors while also widening the market for vendors themselves.
The program will be coordinated by ETSI Plugtests and will involve interoperability tests between femtocell network gateways, security gateways, femtocell access points and chipsets from all the key vendors to verify the 3GPP's Iuh interface as defined in release 8.
The program will also test the IPsec/IKEv2 security protocols that allow femtocells to communicate over the public Internet to system operators' core networks in a highly secure manner.
Release 8 Iuh interface standardization was completed in April 2009 and provides the interface between femtocell access points and femtocell network gateways in the core network. Equipment upgrades to meet this standard are expected to enter the market over the next six months.
"Vendor interoperability is the key ingredient that will give operators the confidence to start mass deployments. Not only will this allow operators to start mixing and matching their technology providers as they do with mobile handsets today, it will also drive economies of scale to bring down the cost of the technology," said Simon Saunders, Chairman of the Femto Forum.
"We've had an overwhelming response from vendors keen to take part in this program. There are currently over twenty femtocell access point models and over a dozen network gateways on the market and this program will start to ensure they all work together harmoniously."
"Nobody will argue with the promise of the Iuh standard in terms of ecosystem development and best-of-breed solutions for operators," noted Peter Jarich, Research Director at Current Analysis. "On its own, however, a standard is meaningless until vendors and operators alike know that products are actually conforming to it - making interoperability testing a critical component of the femtocell market's success."
The Femto Forum has received strong commitment to participation in the tests from its vendor membership and will report on the results following the event in March 2010.
In other news, the Femto Forum has appointed Andy Germano as Vice-Chairman. Andy will provide US-based support to the chairman on internal activities, liaison with external groups and representation of the Forum at industry events and with press and analysts. Andy has over 22 years of telecoms experience including roles at Verizon, Nortel and QUALCOMM.
Additionally, the Femto Forum also welcomes new members who are already active in the working groups, these include: Arqiva, Cosmo Bulgaria Mobile, Cyta, Hitachi, ITRI (Industrial Technology, Research Institute), Node-H GmbH, P3 Solutions GmbH, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd, TDC plc and Wintegra. The Forum now has 117 members including operators with over 1.4 billion mobile subscribers.