In an update to an April 2009 femtocell shipments forecast, ABI Research has scaled down its estimates, reflecting the slower-than-expected adoption of femtocells by mobile operators. The number of shipments forecast in April for 2009 – 790,000 – has been adjusted by about 55 percent. ABI Research now believes that only about 350,000 femtocells will have shipped by the end of the year.

“Even femtocell vendors are a bit surprised that the operators haven’t pushed femtocells as much or as soon as expected,” said practice director Aditya Kaul, in a statement. “We expect that deployments in 2010 will pick up but will be slower than expected – our data suggests about a 40 percent reduction on previous estimates.”

All the large operators in the United States have femtocell offerings including AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. Vodafone in the UK also has a femtocell service and recently China Unicom announced its femto offering.

Kaul points to several factors for the slow uptake: the general economic malaise, which makes the $150 pricetag of an unsubsidized femtocell harder to swallow; the time operators need to get their systems and networks ready for a femtocell deployment; and a fear in some quarters that a rapid increase in femtocell numbers would cause interference in the macro network.

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