Update: via MacRumors 02/09/2009 … Excerpt: MobileCrunch discovered several image files in the new update package that appear to signal the iPhone’s compatibility with AT&T’s upcoming 3G MicroCell technology.
AT&T is apparently in the final stages of preparing a launch of a femtocell device/service – AT&T 3G Microcell. Apple at one time showed some interest in Fon and their “free WiFi” femtocell device …
Femtocells are “in home” (or office) 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. Femotcells will have a range of about 5,000 feet and offer key advantages to both wireless users and carriers. Routing calls/data through a femtocell vs celltower is much less expensive for the carrier and results in a stronger signal, clearer call and faster data transmission (no network crowding).
More details via Engadget - Excerpt: “the unit comes from Cisco (versus Samsung for Sprint and Verizon), and like its competitors, the MicroCell will require a broadband connection to operate. It’ll cover up to 5,000 square feet, allow up to four simultaneous voice or data connections (locked down so that your neighbors can’t pilfer the signal), and most interestingly, will only work with 3G phones. … (femtocells) cells offered by Sprint and Samsung only offer 2G coverage, so AT&T’s arguably got an advantage here.”
For more background see iPhonAsia posts …
Note: Verizon has just launched their own femtocell called the Network Extender. More > HERE
BGR 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