Singapore’s StarHub is the latest operator to show interest in the emerging femtocell sector, with a six-month user trial planned from next week. Deploying small home base station kit from Huawei and ZTE, Singapore’s second largest operator will open the trial to 200 customers who have both postpaid mobile and residential broadband services from StarHub. An Unstrung report states that the operator will use feedback from the trial participants as it considers launching a commercial service.
The femtocell sector is experiencing significant momentum. In the US, Verizon is closely examining how femtocells could help improve its CDMA coverage; Sprint Nextel has already taken the decision to use femtocells and has started to sell the devices to consumers in Denver, Indianapolis and Nashville; and AT&T was rumoured last month to have signed a contract with UK startup ip.access for the supply of up to 7 million femtocells in a deal worth as much as US$500 million over five years. Meanwhile, Vodafone has said it could launch a commercial service by the end of this year and believes the home base station technology may reduce capex by up to 20 percent. Other operators thought to be trialling femtocells include Telefonica O2 Europe, Softbank, Orange France and TeliaSonera. Last month T-Mobile’s venture arm announced it is trialling femtocells from British startup Ubiquisys and has also made an undisclosed investment in the company, mirroring an earlier move by Google.