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Femtocell tech enhances indoor mobile coverage

Posted: 24 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:indoor mobile coverage? femtocell tech? fixed mobile?

A possible rival to combined fixed-mobile offering, which can boost indoor coverage of mobile phone networks, is set to hit mass market in less than a year, according to a Reuters report.

Several companies are reportedly developing femtocells, small indoor base stations for 3G networks that allow operators to improve coverage at lower costs than adding more cell towers.

Like other combined fixed-mobile offerings like BT Group's Fusion or Orange's Unique, the device allows one phone to be used to make calls over the fixed line at home at cheap rates, and over the mobile phone network when away from home. However, the new device does not require special handsets unlike other services.

According to Andy Tiller, VP of marketing at U.K.-based femtocell manufacturer ip.access, the devices are plugged in to a customer's broadband Internet connection and will allow users to make calls or use data services with their regular cellphones.

With this technology, mobile phone operators can then serve at a cheaper cost, and calls made through the femtocell could be priced lower to encourage consumers to use their cellphones instead of their fixed line, he added.

Tiller added that the device can bring about fixed-mobile substitution. However, he noted that phone operators must provide persuasive reasons for consumers to use the device, which will cost the operator over $200 initially.

Femtocells are ready for laboratory trials, with consumer trials likely to begin in Q4 then hit the mass market by March 2008, Tilly said.

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