Cellcom, a mobile operator serving rural areas of Wisconsin and Michigan, announced this week that it plans to use a switching platform from Taqua to support a femtocell deployment. The move will enable the carrier to improve capacity and coverage in heavy-traffic areas on its 3G network and ultimately could support planned 4G services, said Payam Maveddat, Taqua executive vice president of product management and chief strategist, in an interview.
In addition, Maveddat said the Taqua platform eventually could enable Cellcom to deliver fixed mobile convergence capabilities such as simultaneous ringing of cellphones and landline phones. Fixed mobile convergence would be made possible by integration with an application server—and such integration can be easily supported by the Taqua solution, Maveddat said.
Cellcom, which has common ownership with incumbent local exchange carrier Nsight Telservices, is a Verizon Wireless rural partner and plans to use Verizon spectrum to build a 4G LTE network that will deliver service in 2012. Nsight previously chose a Taqua softswitch to replace circuit switched infrastructure and Maveddat said that made Taqua a logical fit for Cellcom’s femtocell needs.
The Nsight landline business also should be an advantage for Cellcom in its femtocell deployment, which will involve installing femtocells within customer premises and shifting backhaul traffic onto the customer’s landline broadband connection.
When carriers install femtocells, Maveddat said that usually “in a residential installation, the assumption is that the end user has broadband.” But for enterprise customers, he said, “it becomes a partnership relationship.” In a retail environment, he said, carriers may make a revenue sharing arrangement with the enterprise customer—or the carrier may bundle the femtocell with other services such as Internet connectivity.
Maveddat said the lack of a landline business does not prevent a mobile operator from deploying femtocells, but he said it’s a particularly attractive option for those carriers that have both types of networks.