Femtocells arriving from Verizon Wireless in 2009


Ubicell_fccWe got a reader tip over the weekend on Verizon Wireless femtocells (thanks, Pereira!) and sure enough, news has been trickling out since then and the units have gone through the FCC. Contrary to popular belief, femtocells aren’t molecular building blocks for fembots, they’re essentially miniature cellular points of presence; it’s like having a small cell tower on your desk, only it’s not 120-feet tall and the coverage is limited to around 5,000 square feet. Plus it doesn’t look like a fake tree. In fact, it looks like a small router (which it is) and Verizon Wireless is set to deploy them next year. Deploy is probably an exaggeration because they don’t deploy these: you do.

Verizon Wireless likely hopes that you take stock of a femtocell because it would boost wireless signal strength in your immediate area without any costly infrastructure charge on their part. There’s no details from the company on how much these will cost consumers and what benefits they might offer, but we can look at Sprint for an idea, as they’ve offered this for over a year.

Sprint customers that take advantage of a femtocell base unit pay$99 for the hardware and then an additional $4.99 monthly fee. There’salso a $10 or $20 charge for unlimited calls on a single or mutiplephone. Essentially, calls then get routed over the web much likeT-Mobile’s Hotspot @ Home service. It’s a smart way for Sprint, whodoesn’t offer landline service, to gain customers in the home.

By using femtocells, Verizon Wireless gains network coverage at lowcost and even offloads some voice traffic off of the network and ontothe broadband connection you already have. While we don’t know thedetails of any such plans yet, I tend to agree with Marguerite Reardon from CNET who says "cell phone operators shouldn’t actually be charging customers an extrafee to use these services. They should be giving it away for free inexchange for making their networks more efficient."

Unfortunately, most consumers won’t be told that femtocells help thecarrier in terms of cost reduction and quality of service. At leastthat won’t be the main selling point. What kinds of plan details wouldyou, as a Verizon Wireless customer, want to see with femtocellservice? Do we have any Sprint users of the product? Curious to hearimpressions…



of course the voice traffic has to be routed to the mobile operator’s net.
But in the case of data traffic, which is an important point for femtocells, will the data be routed to and charged by the mobile operator, or will the femtocell allow direct access to the broadband connection over the UMTS signal of the femtocell? So the user could use his broadband over the mobile device, without having to use the power hungry wlan?
Because charging a customer a fee for using the femtocell and another to use his internet connection, would be damn f***ked up. :)



This is just another way for companies to off-load their responsibilities to the customer and CHARGE the customer for the “added convenience”.

I think, for the $75/month I pay, I should be able to expect coverage from a company that calls itself a “national carrier”. Initially a femtocel sounds like a good idea, but will only increase customers’ tolerance for paying additional fees for service they’re already paying for. For example, why do we pay for cable TV, just so we can then watch advertising that again pays for cable TV? Or, why should I pay “line insurance/maintenance” fee to a land-line telephone provider in case the line that delivers that service gets damaged? Isn’t that the COMPANY’s responsibility, or a cost of doing business? Perhaps I can bill my mortgage company back for repairs I make to my house that serves as collateral for their loan? Yeah, I don’t think so.

We, as consumers, are allowing these big companies to surcharge us to death. A femtocel is a nice gadget in certain circumstances (maybe) but a monthly fee cost structure would only continue that trend and would weaken our collective resolve toward resisting these additional monthly charges.

No wonder americans’ savings rates are at zero, and everyone has been living on credit. Just say “No”.

Markus Göbel's Tech News Comments

It’s laughable that Verizon Wireless wants to charge for channelling their voice traffic over my broadband connection.

The other way, we could get a deal, maybe: They pay my DSL and I open my femtocell for their users.

(These are just thoughts from Germany, where cell phone networks are great and nobody needs to pay for better coverage.)


any health concerns with these things…even a small “tower” seems scary in my own home??

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