Excerpt: Trials supposedly were underway months ago, but it looks like the launch could be literally around the corner. One of our faithful AT&T ninjas sent us in a screenshot that shows an AT&T 3G Microcell femtocell option in addition to AT&T’s broadband and TV service, U-Verse. We don’t have a date on this yet — we’ll continue to dig — but appearing publicly on employee’s screens is always a good sign! Read full Boy Genius Report > HERE
Update- February 12, 2008:
The day after this article was posted, Starbucks announced a new Wi-Fi partnership with AT&T. T-Mobile was the incumbent Wi-Fi provider in Starbucks, yet AT&T apparently had more to offer. We now have a very powerful alliance to deliver high-speed connectivity to millions nationwide. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine 7,000 Starbucks locations with new femtocells that beam out Wi-Fi, 3G (HSPA in the U.S.) and Wi-Max. Oh, by the way, Apple and Starbucks are getting along nicely too. “AT&T will soon extend the benefits of Wi-Fi at Starbucks to its wireless customers.”
Femtocells and the Future of Mobile – Connect the Dots
In the next few years I expect to see significant improvements in connection signals/speed of Wi-Fi and many 3G protocols. These signal boosts might be available in many regions of the world by way of femtocell devices (see Wikipedia definiton at the end of this post). Without getting too technical, femtocells are essentially “in home” cellular base stations that are connected to the Internet and send out “pumped up” wireless signals (encrypted, or public or both). While using femtocells to boost cellular is not new, many carriers are looking at femtocells as a way to expand Wi-Fi and 3G coverage.
Who are the primary femtocell players? What are the network protocols (Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, 3G, etc.) that might benefit the most from “in home” femtocells? How might this impact the use of mobile devices? Well, this is all clear as mud … yet things are happening now (testing by major carriers) and femtocells might very well catch fire and change the mobile communications landscape. So I am calling this post “connect the dots” with a few “dots” offered below.
I’d be interested to hear readers’ views. Please post a comment as to the potential for femtocells (e.g. “massive” or “meager”) and how this might impact current/future mobile handsets and devices such as iPod touch. Might we eventually see a new Apple Airport Extreme femtocell?
Okay … Here are a few dots that might eventually connect (feel free to comment back and add your own “dots”) …
DOT: February 11, 2008 – Vodafone and O2 Testing Femtocells – Vodafone, the world’s largest mobile phone company by revenue, announced today that they are carrying out femtocell technical trials in Spain with both Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei. The femtocell devices are plugged into a customer’s broadband Internet connection and allow users to make calls or use data services with their regular 3G mobile phones. Calls made through the femtocell could be priced more cheaply to encourage consumers to use their mobile phones instead of their fixed-line.
“Femtocells have the potential to enhance customers’ 3G broadband experience, and the trials are critical to investigate whether the technology can deliver on its promise,” Andy MacLeod, Global Networks Director of Vodafone, said in a statement.
DOT: Feb 10, 2008 – O2 trialing device to boost indoor 3G coverage “Our Apple iPhone is already driving unheard-of levels of mobile Internet usage, and the introduction of flat-rate data tariffs is expected to increase this further,” Vivek Dev, chief operating officer of Telefonica O2 Europe said.
DOT: January 22, 2008 – Apple: iPod touch is now a “mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform” EXCERPT: During its quarterly conference call Tuesday, Apple outlined a new vision for the iPod touch, saying it hopes the product will mark the beginning of the first true “Wi-Fi mobile platform.”…… “We believe one of the iPod [touch’s] future directions is to become the first mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform, running all kinds of mobile applications,” company executives said.
DOT: November 2, 2007 – Apple’s recent talks with Spanish WiFi company FON, which provides country-wide WiFi in many parts of the world via shared WiFi. NOTE: If these talks (Fon/Apple) were leading to some immediate partnership, I doubt that Fon CEO Martin Varsavsky would have opted to post the video below…News Flash: “Steve Jobs brilliant, trim and not very nice”
DOT: July 20, 2007 – Google invests in femtocell vendor
Google invests in Ubiquisys and Fon. … Femtocells, an emerging technology for improving cellular coverage in homes and businesses, have attracted the interest of none other than Google Inc.
DOT: July 21, 2007 – Are femtocells with WiFi the future of Fon?
Martin Varsavsky: “At Fon we are researching extending the concept of Fon with WiFi to Fon with 3G and WiFi and I think that this may very well become standard for Fon in the future. Our investors at Google seem to agree as they invested $25 million yesterday in Ubiquisys.”
Femtocell (via Wikipedia): In telecommunications, a femtocell—originally known as an Access Point Base Station—is a small cellular base station, typically designed for use in residential or small business environments. It connects to the service provider’s network via broadband (such as DSL or cable); current designs typically support 2 to 5 mobile phones in a residential setting. A femtocell allows service providers to extend service coverage indoors, especially where access would otherwise be limited or unavailable. The femtocell incorporates the functionality of a typical base station but extends it to allow a simpler, self contained deployment; for example, a UMTS femtocell containing a Node B, RNC and GSN with Ethernet for backhaul. Although much attention is focussed on UMTS, the concept is applicable to all standards, including GSM,CDMA-2000, TD-SCDMA and Wi-Fi and WiMAX solutions.
Detailed review of femtocells > HERE