Trends to watch: Femtocells spike, smartphone video call users flat

Depending on how cable plays its mobile wireless cards and depending on whether the wireless industry actually pays heed to the potential of cable as wireless backhaul, there are some good tidbits to be gleaned from a pair of reports that say over half of U.S. consumers are interested in femtocells and video calling via smartphones is not spiking the way some thought it would.

First, the femtocells, small devices that boost incoming mobile wireless signals and use existing wireline infrastructure for backhaul. A report commissioned by the Femto Forum (and it's up to you how many grains of salt you wish to add here) says that 56 percent of respondents said they found femtocells "appealing once they were described" while only 21 percent were neutral-to-negative. Supposedly femtos won't have a great impact on cable networks, but any additional traffic on a cable broadband plant is something to be watched.

Which brings us to the second piece: the use of smartphones to do video calling. Video, whether wireline or wireless, always connotes broadband usage so it's interesting to note Juniper Research data that suggests that traditional video calls over mobile wireless networks may take a back seat to WiFi and 3G in developing markets where it will be "an attractive option of international calls for those working and living away from their families."

Interestingly, Juniper says the smartphone video calling market is being "held back by a lack of interoperability between different devices."

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