Blog Post

Verizon's Femtocell Is Pretty Lame

Today Verizon Wireless (s VZ) is expected to launch its first femtocell product, which will boost cell phone reception inside a person’s home and cost $249.99. Despite the fact that there are no monthly fees, Om’s right, the femtocell is a ripoff. But while the press release may tout this as being akin to getting a million-dollar cell site in your home, it’s a seriously neutered one.

The service only supports better voice reception, and while the Verizon release talks about boosting data coverage for email and picture messaging, the femtocell won’t improve EVDO or MediaFLO reception. That means no 3G data in your house (or a potential temptation to drop your Verizon broadband) and no mobile TV, for which subscribers already pay $15 a month. Instead of getting innovative with the femtocell, Verizon’s merely taking voice traffic off its cellular network and routing it over the user’s broadband connection. At least it’s not charging service fees for the privilege like Sprint (s S) does.

27 Responses to “Verizon's Femtocell Is Pretty Lame”

  1. Vic Barry

    Here’s the deal…the Femto does NOT boost a signal. It creates its own signal that is back-hauled via broadband. So this is not what you want if you have a 2-bar signal that just needs boosting. This is what you want if you have 1-bar or no signal, and need to, or want to, use your cell phone.

    I don’t own a cell phone, yet, because I live in a place with ZERO signal. But I’ll get a Femto, and a VZW phone and be reasonably happy with my ability to talk with others.

    Or, I’ll throw it all away and be blissfully unable to communicate wirelessly!

  2. Kate Williamson

    No one can give the straight talk on how the network entender works ,, do i have to have DSl or will it work off satellite, like Hughes net???

  3. bitching for the sake of bitching.. mobile video is such a waste. it’s a phone, people. the only reason people need it to be other things is because they spend all of their money on it and thus, feel the need to justify using it ALL THE TIME.

  4. The service fees that Sprint charges are to allow you to make unlimited calls using the femtocell. Instead of upgrading to a plan with unlimited minutes, you can pay ~$10/month and get unlimited minutes while you’re at home. That’s a much better deal than this, where you don’t get any additional minutes.

    And as for not being able to use EVDO or 3G through the device, just turn on WiFi as any device worth using EVDO or 3G on is most likely capable of hooking up to your wireless router and using your broadband connection which is even faster. In fact, for any browsing/streaming while at home, you probably should be using WiFi over EVDO/3G whether you get this device or not.

    • bigdawg

      problem is, Verizon for god knows what reasons didn’t include Wifi on the new Blackberry Tour. extraordinarily frustrating. using UMA with T-Mobile, which I did previously (with a Wifi equipped curve) was a vastly better experience.

  5. I recieved the Actiontech Router and it worked flawlessly. I removed the old DLINK DI-624, the additional bridge to support the Motorola (COax – Ethernet converter) and connected everything up to the Actiontech. By the time I had all the wires back in place the router was connected to the WAN port and saw the Internet Gateway. I connected the Network Extender and it set up without issue in 35 minutes. I believe the firmware on the DLINK supplied by Verizon did not support the 802.1q tagging or the Qos which might be required to control the traffic accross the ethernet cloud to the VzW switch with priority. It was a well worth while investment. Since my carrier Voicewing is closing up shop, this is a viable option compared to the Verizon Hub. With the Verizon Hub, you are locked down to an expandable cordless set and must purchase an additional digital voice plan. With the Network Extender I kick up my minutes a little bit (less than the $39 for digital voice) and I’m set.

    Great product!!! I’ve advised Vz Wireless and the project leader of the conflict with the D-Link, hopefully a flash will be released amoung their Tech support to advise the customer’s to contact the ISP.

  6. It appears the Samsung Network Extender may not work with the 2005 Vz FiOS DLINK DI-624 router. The router acts as though it is filling it’s buffer with errors and which then become full and resets the router. I have contacted VzFiOS tech support and they are shipping me a new Actiontech Router. I will keep you posted if this resolves the issue.

  7. Frank Montalbano

    I am extremely disappointed with the out of the box experience. I am a loyal customer of Verizon / Verizon Wireless and a Network Engineer. Thus, I have compassion for the occasionaly configuration issue. But, considering the limitations placed on the insight on how this thing works has prevented my rom troubleshooting my $250 + network element. The last time I spent this much money was on my last Laptop. Out of the box I expect this thing to work right away. I’ve set it up on my network and waited 2 and 1/2 hours for a GPS signal. In the meantime this damn thing has taken my network down ever five miniutes. So not only can I not use this benefit for Verizon Wireless, I’ve been prevented from using my network for 5 hours as I’ve had to try this damn thing in various locations around my home. Sorry, but for twice the price of an economical GPS device (TOM TOM) which can acquire a GPS signal in my home within 5 minutes, this thing is a gross disappointment. So, I get to wait 48-72 hours for a network escalation ticketfor resolution. I bet I’ll receive a status on this escalation while I’m at work and cannot do a damn thing with this hunk of plastic.

    • Robert

      I just got my Verizon unit (talked my way into a $100 discount) and I love it. I almost ignored the “place next to a window sticker) but did see it before installing. The unit had four blue lights in under 15 minutes. Reception in our office is great now. Our people love the difference.

  8. i don’t think you get this.

    the femtocell is meant to provide coverage for those who get a bar of signal outside their house, but when they walk into the house they lose it. Places like rural maine are a perfect example of this. Verizon is a carrier of choice due to using CDMA and better reach of their network. However you reach a massive point of diminishing returns as you try to provide good coverage to these communities inside as well as outside.

    It also has a good application for large buildings that lose service in the basement or center of the building.

    If you are getting mediaflow you aren’t part of this customer base. because you’re probably getting fantastic coverage already. btw, it hooks up to your broadband, so if you are using it, load up your laptop, or turn on the wifi on your blackberry to surf the net.

  9. One of the biggest differences I see with the VZW version vs Sprint and ATT (I believe) is that VZW does not currently seem to have additional minutes for this device. With Sprint’s, you can pay an additional $10/mo for unlimited minutes for up to 3 lines on a family plan (or $5 for an individual plan). This could be a good deal if you call a lot from home. VZW, being typical VZW, keeps using your normal cell minutes.

  10. Given the number of times I have been personally and professionally screwed by Verizon/Bell Atlantic, I don’t need to get lectured on how bad the company acts …

    MediaFLO is a SEPARATE NETWORK from the 3G network. Basically Stacy, what you want is for the femtocell to contain a separate radio for a marginal improvement to how many users???. Slap on another $20-30 bucks to that $250 box, plus 3-4 years of NAB protests of a device potentially capable of polluting the DTV airwaves.

    Not really a win for anyone. Maybe you’d feel better if Verizon threw in some jelly jars or a set of Ginzu knives…

  11. DG Lewis

    It’s a beta, folks. They put it out with a $250 price tag, which limits it to the few customers who are loyal to VZW, use mostly voice and SMS, and have poor in-home coverage – a number likely to be somewhere less than 100k, and clearly not starting with an “M”. They work out the kinks of femto fulfillment, management, and support. Then in a year or so they roll out a 3G — or more likely 4G — femtocell at a very attractive price point (I’d make it $50, personally), and really get the benefits of RAN and backhaul offload.

  12. “That means no 3G data in your house (or a potential temptation to drop your Verizon broadband)”

    Uhhhhhhhh, you know that Verizon and I’m sure other carriers cap bandwidth at 5gb a month for their 3G offerings?

    How in the world could someone ever drop their Verizon broadband unless they do the absolute bare minimum?

  13. “That means no 3G data in your house (or a potential temptation to drop your Verizon broadband)”
    Not sure what you mean by this. If Verizon’s femto cell were to carry 3G traffic, you would still need a broadband connection to do the backhaul. What am I missing?

  14. I think its remarkable, they think it’s a good idea ! You can just hear the execs now;

    The Man :”Wow, I’ve got it, why don’t we sell some devices to our customers that will allow them to have signal in their house ?”

    Voice of Reason:”I think we are supposed to include a signal with our subscription plan, sir ??!”

    The Man:”Nonsense, your getting confused with the talk time minutes, no one said anything about getting a signal”

  15. Stacey ,

    My comment from Om’s post

    I would add more , in few years , Verizon might open the 3G on this device , if you happened to be a Verizon FIOS customer !!!!.

    And then the government gets in , to find ways to tax this thing toooo.

    But first here is my repeat of the comment from Om’s earlier post.

    Folks and Om,
    You should understand that it costs billions of dollars to build or strengthen a cell network.

    With this option , say a half a million of the existing 30 million something verizon customers buy this one , that will be 125 millions revenue for verizon. They do not have to fix the network , still make some revenues plus increase the coverage.

    On why Sprint or Verizon are not letting 3G on this device ??? ,,, its because the ISPs ( Comcast, VERIZON :-) , ATTT :-) and Time Warners of the world) might complain about their bandwidth being used by the cell companies.

    I am fine with a one time payment option as long as THE THING WORKS ( both voice and 3G services ).

  16. Stacey Higginbotham

    Doug, we don’t have a TV in every room, but I bet my husband might want to check in on the game while in the bedroom and a teenager without a television in their room might want to check for a fast clip of network television that can’t be found on their laptop. Is it a huge deal? No. But the point is you’re paying $250 for better voice coverage i nthe house, when today’s mobile phone offers so much more.

  17. The way I see it there is no benefit to using the VZW device. You pay extra money for the chance to have good reception in your place. That’s it. There’s no “free calling through the device” or “10,000 free minutes per month while using the device” or “setup the GPS antenna once then throw it back in the box” (okay, that’s just a wish). They are stuck in the same rut as Sony. They are unable/unwilling to remotely cannibalize their other businesses to help innovate and move product. Because of their wide swath of businesses there is too much crippling about products/services offerings.

  18. @ Doug – Verizon has earned their reputation. They are generally very sneaky about prices and random extra charges that appear on your invoice. They are the least customer-friendly company I have ever worked with.