Femtocells are small, low-power, indoor cellular base stations that can achieve higher-quality local-area coverage, and allow mobile operators to extend their cellular footprint in the home and office environment.
Infonetics said the greatest opportunity for operators will be presented by 3G femtocells that are deployed in households, where they can be used to provide consistent high-speed coverage, as well as improved home-zone-type tariffs and services for customers.
3G femtocells offer operators a practical and potentially much less expensive alternative to enhancing coverage by further investing in denser 3G macro cell networks, said Infonetics.
In addition, as femtocells are backhauled over an internet connection, such as a consumer's DSL line, the mobile operator could make operational expenditure savings on macrocellular backhaul architectures.
Richard Webb, an Infonetics analyst, said, "Femtocells could allow mobile operators to make a significant shift away from just relying on traditional cellular network architecture.
"The prospect of capex and opex savings, combined with new personal broadband service opportunities, is generating intense interest from operators in femtocells and more vendors are developing products."
He said, "If the hype translates into deployment, femtocells could radically transform the economics of mobile data and content-based services."