Email Delivery

Receive new posts as email.

Email address

Syndicate this site

RSS 0.91 | RSS 2.0
RDF | Atom
Podcast only feed (RSS 2.0 format)
Get an RSS reader
Get a Podcast receiver


About This Site
Contact Us
Privacy Policy


September 2007
Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29

Stories by Category

Academia :: Academia
Administrative :: Administrative
Convergence :: Convergence
Future :: Future
Hardware :: Hardware Chips Devices Femtocells Voice Devices
Hotspots :: Hotspots
Industry Issues :: Industry Issues Competition Deals
Internet telephony :: Internet telephony
Legal :: Legal Lawsuits Regulatory
Service Launches :: Service Launches Trials
Software :: Software
Standards :: Standards DECT IMS SIP UMA WMM Power Save
Temporary Ntworks :: Temporary Ntworks
VoIP Networks :: VoIP Networks Gizmo Project Skype
VoWLAN :: VoWLAN Testing
Voice over IP over Cellular :: Voice over IP over Cellular
limitations :: limitations


September 2007 | July 2007 | June 2007 | May 2007 | March 2007 | February 2007 | January 2007 | December 2006 | November 2006 | October 2006 | September 2006 | August 2006 | July 2006 | June 2006 | May 2006 | April 2006 | March 2006 | February 2006 | January 2006 | December 2005 | November 2005 | October 2005 | September 2005 | July 2005 | June 2005 | May 2005 | April 2005 | March 2005 |

Recent Entries

Femtocells, Finally! Sprint Rolls out Samsung Device
Google Invests in Femtocell Firm
Femtocells, Finally?
Femtocells Still Searching for Market, But Getting Closer
Wall Street Journal Covers UMA
Ericsson Shows Femtocell

Site Philosophy

This site operates as an independent editorial operation. Advertising, sponsorships, and other non-editorial materials represent the opinions and messages of their respective origins, and not of the site operator or JiWire, Inc.


Entire site and all contents except otherwise noted © Copyright 2001-2006 by Glenn Fleishman. Some images ©2006 Jupiterimages Corporation. All rights reserved. Please contact us for reprint rights. Linking is, of course, free and encouraged.

Powered by
Movable Type

Category: Femtocells

September 19, 2007

Femtocells, Finally! Sprint Rolls out Samsung Device

By Glenn Fleishman

The first commercial rollout of an in-home cell-to-broadband gateway comes from Sprint: Sprint sold its landline business, and thus they have more motivation to get cell callers to move their dollars from wire to wireless. Reports are that they’re offering a limited rollout of a Samsung femtocell, a tiny cell base station that uses licensed frequencies, with a connection to a consumer’s broadband Internet service. The markets covered are Denver and Indianapolis.

Femtocells differ from unlicensed mobile access (UMA), in that UMA uses, well, unlicensed 2.4 GHz bandwidth; femtocells using licensed frequencies can push out higher-powered signals and have no competition for the bandwidth. Further, femtocells can work with any existing handset; UMA requires new handsets that combine cell (GSM only at this point) and Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. That’s not as big a deal as it used to be, with nearly 100 handsets in production or in theĀ  market that match Wi-Fi with cell.

The service costs $50 for the device and $15 per month for unlimited local and U.S. calling. It’s called an Airave, and won’t hit nationally until 2008. Femtocells have to account for the part of the country in which they operate as each carrier owns a specific set of spectrum licenses in each geographic area. Any Sprint handset can work with the femtocell.

The cost of femtocells is estimated to be in the hundreds of dollars, making the subsidized $50 price seem rather low. But Alan Nogee of In-State is quoted with an excellent observation in this PC World article: he notes that because most home calling falls into the free weekend/evening minute category anyway, cell carriers aren’t making additional revenue. He didn’t note, too, that if you have a large minute plan, the carriers would prefer you use fewer minutes until you run over when they’d rather you pay lots of overages.

Thus, any minute pulled from a pool that’s then not used or any minute that would have been carried for free as part of a weekend/evening plan that is now part of an additional $15/month in revenue is a savings in cell carriage and an increase in revenue from the monthly fee. I like it. It also keeps people loyal to Sprint.

With UMA, depending on the network, customers can get no-minutes-used calling at hotspots, which isn’t an option with femtocells.

I’ve been dubious about femtocells because their availability is always next year or the year after, no matter how many years back you talk about them. The cost remains high, and it’s got a fixed-location utility. T-Mobile can use UMA to give people free calls at 8,500 locations in the U.S. in addition to home. Sprint can give people…better reception at home. So we’ll see if the quality issue combined with a Vonage-like pricing plan is enough to get people to give up landlines. Since people still need broadband, which is often coupled or bundled with landline or voice service, there’s a question there about whether femtocells are thus compelling enough, too, to replace that.

Posted by Glennf at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2007

Google Invests in Femtocell Firm

By Glenn Fleishman

Google puts money into Ubiquisys: The search giant was part of a $25m round of financing. Femtocells use licensed frequencies to act as tiny cell base stations in homes and offices, with voice and data backhauled over a customer’s own broadband connection. The investment is interesting in light of Google’s intent to bid in the 700 MHz advanced wireless auction in the U.S., for which rules are still be nailed down.

Posted by Glennf at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2007

Femtocells, Finally?

By Glenn Fleishman

Peter Judge reports at Techworld that femtocells, cell base stations for the home, are still far from deployment, but moving along: Femtocells have been two-years-away technology for some time. Rather, the technology is well understood: a cellular carrier can give its customers broadband-backhauled base stations that use licensed frequencies the carrier controls. The broadband may be unpredictable—just like with VoIP—but there’s no issue with interference as there is with UMA (unlicensed mobile access) when Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or other devices are contending for spectrum.

But Judge notes that while vendors have femtocells on offer, carriers don’t have them in live trials yet. At a femtocell conference, he reports on a lot of talk about standards and operator-oriented control tools. There are a lot of issues to be settled, such as will a femtocell allow any user nearby or just the one paying for the broadband? Does their use break ISP agreements on services carried, part of the net neutrality debate?

ABI Research predicted 35m femtocells in use by 2011, but others are dubious, including myself. UMA is a “best-availbility” technology that might wind up being good enough—and which could cost carriers a lot less to rll out to users. Femtocells costs are still quite high compared to comparable Wi-Fi networking equipment, even though femtocells will have lots of advantages for voice users.

Posted by Glennf at 2:03 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2007

Femtocells Still Searching for Market, But Getting Closer

By Glenn Fleishman

RadioFrame has been working on femtocells for eight years, but haven’t sold a one yet: The technology of a femtocell, a pint-sized cellular network transceiver that plugs into home broadband, would allow a cell carrier to extend its network using its licensed frequencies into a home or office. Office buildings and airports already use microcells—also manufactured by RadioFrame—to ensure good signal coverage indoors. Bringing femtocells into homes would allow good reception and incremental revenue for carriers.

Femtocells face competition from unlicensed mobile access (UMA), which appears to have a headstart, despite the fact that UMA requires new handsets that mix cell and Wi-Fi (or sometimes Bluetooth) in a single phone. Femtocell-based calling wouldn’t require that a user change their handset at all. However, RadioFrame says it needs to get costs down to $150 for a femtocell to make it cost effective.

UMA has gotten a leg up through BT’s Fusion deloyment in the UK, although the early numbers there aren’t promising yet, but that might have something to do with only first-generation UMA handsets being available. T-Mobile will reportedly roll out UMA from its Washington State-only offering now to the whole US next month. The Wi-Fi Alliance is pushing UMA because they have a couple different standards that improve voice quality and battery life that they’ve been working closely with converged handset makers to adopt, as well as consumer and corporate Wi-Fi gateway manufacturers.

RadioFrame most likely is sitting on a pile of patents, too, which might be part of their long-term strategy: if femtocells take off, they can net licensing dollars as well as direct sales of their own equipment.

Posted by Glennf at 5:10 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2007

Wall Street Journal Covers UMA

By Glenn Fleishman

The Journal looks at Unlicensed Mobile Access and IMS worldwide: The article paints a very fair picture of the quality and cost of UMA, and why it’s typically being used today (for better indoor coverage). There’s a nice description of the evolution of cellular towards IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem), and some notes about how people can make phone calls over Wi-Fi from some smartphones using third-party software, a potential challenge to both UMA and IMS’s voice side.

Interesting that BT acknowledges the cheapness of handling calls over Wi-Fi and broadband that the customer separately pays for: they offer four UMA minutes as the equivalent of one cell minute in their calling plans, which conforms to what I’ve been told about call completion costs (4 or 5 cents a minute for cell, 1 cent a minute for UMA/broadband).

Femotcells are mentioned briefly, but the Journal says their availability isn’t near-term.

Posted by Glennf at 12:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 9, 2007

Ericsson Shows Femtocell

By Glenn Fleishman

The company’s option will allow existing GSM and 3G handsets to connect, with backhaul by broadband: Femtocells are an increasingly interesting option for improving in-home access. One strategy is dual-mode handsets that use Wi-Fi in the home for calls; the other is femtocells in which the existing GSM standard is used. In either case, backhaul is from customer-provided broadband. Ericsson’s system supports Wi-Fi and DSL for backhaul.

Posted by Glennf at 11:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack