Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Engineers v Consumers

Back from MWC away from the hype, you need to cast around for a sense of perspective that helps put it all in place. It's all too easy to get caught up in the excitement, the buzz, the group think that sweeps the Fira. So occassionally you have to take a deep breath and ask that all important question: "So what?"

Arguably none come bigger that femtocells when it comes to hype. If all you hear is the industry press, there's a tendancy to take as read all the vendor promises and operator trials and see them as indicating that all is rosey in the 3G garden.

However, a great post on the blog Is this thing switched on? got me thinking. Is the user being forgotten about in all this hullaballoo about indoor coverage, RAN off-load and a mobile broadband future?

Who are the important people - the engineers who come up with this stuff, or the subscribers who have to use it?

From a consumer perspective, do they really want yet another box in the front room? The WiFi router guys are way ahead, as you'd expect, in terms of design and making the kit 'living room friendly' and considering it as a piece of furniture and not just a piece of networking equipment. But that took how long for the design gurus to wrestle control out of the hands of the engineers?

It's not enough for femtocells to solve a technology problem - that's an operator issue. To win over the subscriber and work their way into the home, they need to do more than just provide better coverage, or cheaper faster data. They need to fit into the home and into the modern digital lifestyle.

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