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Some Thoughts on Femtocells
This device plugs into your home (or small office) network, and uses your current ISP to provide strong cell coverage


AT&T recently released their Femtocell.  This device plugs into your home (or small office) network, and uses your current ISP to provide strong cell coverage.  Currently, AT&T and Sprint are the only networks with full on femtocells.  T-Mobile has their “Hotspot @ Home” which enables Wi-Fi phones to have better calling via your broadband internet, but is not an actual cell tower.  AT&T’s offering enables voice and data over the cell (great for those non-Wi-Fi phones) while Sprint’s femtocell only allows voice transmissions.  Obviously enabling full on voice and maybe data for people in their homes is a big deal.  Especially on the most often reviled and harangued network, AT&T.

Airave Phone Image

The ability to actually make calls from home is something a lot of iPhone users and other cell phone users would love to have.  The most common thing heard about the iPhone is “it’s great to do everything except make calls” with a femtocell, it could be great for doing that too!  A former AT&T customer, I couldn’t stand driving around the DC Beltway and dropping a phone call every five minutes, it was not professional, and it was obnoxious.  I’ve since switched to Sprint, and enjoy their inexpensive plans, as well am already salivating over the HTC Evo.  I’ve found that Sprint has their issues as well, but recently picked up the Sprint Overdrive 3G/4G wireless router (review to follow soon).

I think femtocells will be great for people who work from home.  Coupled with a powerful smartphone and Google Voice, it would provide guaranteed service and quality.  Also, for small businesses w/ 5 or less users it can provide the same guarantees.   Femtocells can replace the need for hardline telephones by ensuring your cellular phones will work.

My only disagreement with Sprint and AT&Ts femtocell deployment is the simple fact that they cost money.  AT&T’s option is $150 dollars, with zero monthly fees.  Sprint’s femtocell is $100 dollars, with a $5 monthly fee.  Users are SUPPLEMENTING the service carriers should offer.  Why should they have to pay extra to actually have service?  I find this absurd, and believe that Sprint and AT&T should be providing this free of charge.  It could and should be a leased item that users keep so long as they subscribe to the service.  It would not be out of line for the service provider to charge on the back end if the femtocell is not returned to them.

So do I think an AIRAVE or a Microcell is for everyone? Certainly not, but if you cannot seem to get a decent signal, it could alleviate that problem.

Read the original blog entry...

About Bob Gourley
Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder of Crucial Point and publisher of

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