Friday, February 22, 2008

Femtocells what and why

Kind of a strange name but femtocells are very small cell towers. You may also see the term picocell used in place of femtocell, femtocells are a type of picocell. If your question is what good is a small cell tower think about cell phone coverage inside your home, in my case a femtocell has to help. Basically this femtocell is suppose to give you good cell phone reception in your home and sends the calls out over your broadband connection. So depending on how good your broadband connection, that will determine if one of these Femtocells will help in your situation. There is lot of work going on in this area. Sprint has started a trial with there AIRAVE device in Sept. 2007 in Denver and Indianapolis with plans for general availability in 2008. The pricing on the Sprint device seems very good also at $49. Although I have heard that femtocells may go for around $200. So not sure if the Sprint pricing is just for the trial or will also apply for the nationwide roll out. In addition to Sprint, Vodafone has a trial starting in Spain and O2 is starting a trial this month in the UK. I'm guessing the other wireless carriers will also be doing trials in the near future. So assuming this technology performs well the decline in land lines could really accelerate especially with the recent flat rate unlimited calling plans that many of wireless carriers have just come out with here in the US.

If you are using one of these offerings how about posting a comment about your experience with your carriers offering.

In case your interested here is additional background information on femtocells from Wikipedia.


Anonymous said...

The cost of femtocells is still thought to be around 200-300 dollars in volume, although the price might well be subsidised by operators as is the case with Sprint. There are a few published trials of this technology in Europe, but in small numbers. The key issues to solve remain interference with the main cellular network, ensuring its "idiot-proof", self-installing and configuring to keep ongoing costs down, and standardisation to ensure compatability and choice between vendors.

This technology should be very popular in the US where there are a lot of broadband cable/DSL lines in areas with poor mobile coverage - the so-called exburbs.

The femtocell technology is also being incorporated into DSL modems (with WiFi, VOIP etc), so you can have one box to do it all.

Read more about it on my information site at

Jim said...

David thanks for the info and the post. I was also looking at your site and you have a lot of great information. Do you happen to know if the Sprint Airave is capable of supporting EVDO Rev. A for both voice and data? My understanding from a user who is in the Sprint pilot is that the Airave device does not support data only voice but is that due to the device or technical choices made by Sprint?

Unknown said...

The existing Sprint Airave femtocell available nationwide now (early 2009) does support data, but only at 1x speeds...even if you are in an otherwise EvDO area.