Q: I have been approached by a service provider to put a 4G femtocell in our office building. The service provider says it will improve coverage. What are the implications of doing this?

Femtocells are small base stations

A: Femtocells are small base stations. Deploying femtocells in buildings will improve the ability for users to connect to the cellular service provider with their 4G devices and attain higher data rates.

There are a couple of things you should consider when making this decision. The first consideration is how the femtocell will connect to the service provider's network. The second consideration is whether you want users inside the building to connect to your internal Wi-Fi system or the service provider's 4G system.

Understand backhaul connections

Femtocells are similar to public Wi-Fi hotspot deployments. Many times they connect to the service provider's network using DSL, an Ethernet cable, or a fiber-optic cable. Make sure you understand the backhaul connection before you agree to deploy a femtocell in your office building.

Many enterprises are adding Quality of Service (QoS) to their Wi-Fi networks to enable them to support not only high-speed data but also voice and video traffic. If your users are connecting using a device such as a Wi-Fi enabled smartphone or laptop, they can simply use the Wi-Fi network. In other words, you don't need the femtocell and the additional costs that your users might incur connecting to a third-party service provider.