[qi:090] An alert reader sent me a link to a patent filed published yesterday by Embarq (s EQ), the wireline carrier currently trying to merge with CenturyTel. The patent is for a “universal femto cell,” and the gist of the patent is to create a femtocell that will work with any carrier. A femtocell is like a mini cell tower in the home that provides a better signal and routes the cellular traffic over the home’s wired broadband network.
Sprint (s S) and Verizon (s VZ) have femotcell products, and AT&T’s (s T) is coming. What’s interesting about this patent is that it attempts to take the femotcell out of carriers’ hands and place it in the realm of the wireline provider. After all, they do control the backhaul for these mini cell towers. However, tuning the universal femotcell to a carrier’s network could require approval from the carrier in order for the device to be recognized by the network — issues that relate more to business models than patentable technology.
In the case of Embarq — or any other wireline carrier that doesn’t have a wireless business — getting a universal femtocell would be a way to capture revenue from providing better cellular service inside people’s homes. And with people cutting the cord, wireline carriers need all the help they can get.
Of course, this is merely a patent filing. It’s not granted, and until I get more details from Embarq, I have no idea what it plans to do. Stay tuned.