Analyst firm Berg Insight predicts that femtocell shipments will grow from 200,000 units in 2009 to 12 million units worldwide in 2014.
The European, North American and advanced markets in Asia Pacific will account for the vast majority of shipments of femtocells; small cellular base stations using broadband connections for backhaul, intended to extend coverage and offload the wider mobile network in home and small office environments.
Vodafone is the first mobile network in Europe to rollout the technology, while other networks are expected to follow.
Berg predicts that by 2014, the number of users worldwide that connect to a femtocell on a regular basis is estimated to surpass 70 million.
However, the femtocell concept is still at an early age, and most users are currently reluctant to take the technology on as Wi-Fi access points already help boost mobile connectivity.
Berg telecoms analyst Marcus Persson said: “Virtually all PCs and most smartphones are already Wi-Fi enabled and are thus able to leverage the large installed base of Wi-Fi access points available in homes, offices and public buildings. For the moment, many people are not willing to install yet another box in their homes unless it can add significant value beyond what Wi-Fi already brings today.
“The femtocell concept is still at an early stage with few commercial deployments. It will take several years before shipments of femtocells become substantial. To begin with, the industry needs to prove that femtocells can be deployed without causing adverse interference. Femtocells also need to become sufficiently standardised to ensure efficient integration and low cost per unit. More importantly, “operators need to find and adjust business models that make femtocells attractive for their customers, who will ultimately buy or receive femtocells for placement at their premises.”