Today, the first WiMAX femtocell standard has been published, opening the door for wireless equipment manufacturers to start making products that enhance WiMAX coverage on a smaller scale.
Femtocell devices act as tiny cell towers and are capable of improving wireless coverage in areas where traditional towers have difficulty penetrating, such as deep inside buildings or in areas with high out-of-channel interference. Femtocell products for consumer 3G wireless have been available for a couple of years and include the Sprint Airave and AT&T Microcell, but until now, WiMAX dead zones have had to remain so.
Because WiMAX has a built-in quality of service mechanism which guarantees minimum throughput for subscribers in a given area, this version of the standard includes a so-called "Self Organizing Network" capability, which automatically configures large numbers of femtocells. The Forum says later versions of the standard will include automatic interference management between the towers and femtocells.
Additionally, the standard includes three profiles to cover different usage cases such as residential deployments, enterprise deployments, or outdoor networks.
With the new standard, the WiMAX Forum expects compatible products to begin appearing in early 2011.