HetNet step 1: More LTE microcells than base stations by 2014

ABI Research estimates there will be more LTE microcells in place than actual LTE base stations by 2014. There’s good reason to believe the forecast: For a heterogeneous network with wide coverage, the number of microcells will have to far outweigh the number of base stations.

Opportunities still exist for femtocells

Residential femtocell sales continue to lag due to overpriced hardware and the widespread adoption of Wi-Fi in the home. But opportunities still exist for femtocells in the enterprise and as a crucial component of carriers’ overall mobile networks.

Femtocells Get Out of Our Homes and Into Our Cities

Picochip today said it has released a chip that will enable mobile operators to place small base stations known as femtocells anywhere, bringing them out of the home environment and into public areas. This is good for carriers, but it may be bad news for consumers.

The Case for Subsidized Femtocells

Sprint has begun offering femtocells on a case-by-case basis to users who complain about in-home coverage problems. With market expectations huge, that’s a long-overdue move that will further boost carrier revenues and should be mirrored by Sprint’s competitors.

Free or Not, Femtocell Deployments Are on the Rise

Deployments of femtocells have doubled in the last six months, indicating that an increasing number of carriers want to supplement wireless coverage in homes using the 3G devices. Evan as some carriers charge for the hardware, consumers appear willing to pay for better home voice coverage.

AT&T Data Plans' Biggest Losers: Femtocell Users

When AT&T eliminated unlimited smartphone data plans earlier this month, much of the outrage was from iPhone owners, traditionally the biggest users of AT&T’s data network. But the biggest losers are femtocell customers because 3G data use with these devices counts against the now-limited plans.

picoChip Gets a $20M Boost for Femtocells

picoChip, maker of semiconductors for femtocells, has raised $20 million in funding, bringing its total venture capital raised to $110 million. I wrote earlier this month that PicoChip’s latest silicon could finally create an opportunity for femtocells to gain real adoption. Its investors must agree.

Picochip Gives Femtocells a New Lease on Life

Picochip has built a chip that can support far more mobile users on a femtocell, and help carriers handle the problem of chatty phones that overwhelm networks with movement notifications, push email, Twitter, etc. Maybe it will be just what femtocells need to finally take off.