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AT&T To Launch Femtocells Next Week
No word on pricing yet...
by Karl Bode 09:37AM Friday Sep 18 2009
Last December, AT&T's John Stankey, chief executive of AT&T's Operations division, confirmed the telco was testing femtocells in employee homes, and would be engaging in a broader, "city-sized test" with customers in the second quarter of 2009. Femtocells essentially create a micro cell tower in your home that improves coverage and allows you to make calls over your broadband connection (easing strain on local towers is the primary perk for AT&T). Unstrung now reports that AT&T should launch the service next week, "possibly" in Atlanta, San Antonio, Seattle, and at least one city in North Carolina.

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FFH
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2 edits

AT&T making big deal about 3G - unlike Verizon/Sprint equip

AT&T is making a big deal out of the fact that their femtocell will support 3G data access. Why is beyond me. Their 3G femtocell must still access the internet thru a router(99% of the time a wireless router). The iPhone and many other smartphones now all support WiFi access. If you can access the internet on your smartphone using WiFi it would be slower to access it thru the 3G femtocell.

I guess some feature phones that access the internet, but don't have WiFi capabilities, will be helped. But that is a small number of AT&T users that would bother getting an AT&T femtocell.

P.S.>> they aren't rolling this out early to NYC and SF which need this capability more than other areas.
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decifal

join:2007-03-10
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Re: AT&T making big deal about 3G - unlike Verizon/Sprint equip

femtocells.. Hey sounds wonderful! If you live outta range of good cell reception just plug one of these into your "broadband" connection and you'll have full signal!..... Oh wait.... You live in a rural area.. NM, your still screwed

PaulieORF

join:2001-04-15
Southington, CT
said by FFH:

AT&T is making a big deal out of the fact that their femtocell will support 3G data access. Why is beyond me. Their 3G femtocell must still access the internet thru a router(99% of the time a wireless router). The iPhone and many other smartphones now all support WiFi access. If you can access the internet on your smartphone using WiFi it would be slower to access it thru the 3G femtocell.

I guess some feature phones that access the internet, but don't have WiFi capabilities, will be helped. But that is a small number of AT&T users that would bother getting an AT&T femtocell.

P.S.>> they aren't rolling this out early to NYC and SF which need this capability more than other areas.
I think they're pushing the 3G capability of their femtocell product because the femtocells from the other US carriers only support 2G services. As little as it means to smartphone users, AT&T will have the only 3G femtocell solution in the US.

morbo
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Re: AT&T making big deal about 3G - unlike Verizon/Sprint equip

said by PaulieORF See ProfileI think they're pushing the 3G capability of their femtocell product because the femtocells from the other US carriers only support 2G services. As little as it means to smartphone users, AT&T will have the only 3G femtocell solution in the US.
[/BQUOTE :


Isn't T-Mobile's @ home service similar to a femtocell?

PaulieORF

join:2001-04-15
Southington, CT

1 edit

Re: AT&T making big deal about 3G - unlike Verizon/Sprint equip

said by morbo:

said by PaulieORF See ProfileI think they're pushing the 3G capability of their femtocell product because the femtocells from the other US carriers only support 2G services. As little as it means to smartphone users, AT&T will have the only 3G femtocell solution in the US.
[/BQUOTE :


Isn't T-Mobile's @ home service similar to a femtocell?
No, T-Mobile @Home is simply a VOIP service for dial tone phones, similar to Vonage in a way. I think T-Mobile does have a few standard flip phones that have Wifi built in and can make calls over it. Their @Home service contains zero cellular technology.

EDIT: I'm basing this completely on reviews and not first hand, and I think I might be slightly incorrect here. I'm fact checking right now.

morbo
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Re: AT&T making big deal about 3G - unlike Verizon/Sprint equip

My mistake: I meant T-Mobile HOTSPOT @ HOME and not T-Mobile @ Home. Confusing. Hotspot @ Home is different from their home service offering. Both are $10/month but Hotspot allows your wifi phone to send and receive unlimited calls while connected to your home (or remote) hotspot.
iansltx

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Re: AT&T making big deal about 3G - unlike Verizon/Sprint equip

If your phone is UMA compatible (some, though not all, T-Mo phones are) you can do this...and it works on ANY WiFi hotspot, which is pretty cool.

Also means that you can get away with a $50 wireless router rather than a $150 femtocell. Though OTOH most phones won't work with the tech.
Neosum
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Re: AT&T making big deal about 3G - unlike Verizon/Sprint equip

said by iansltx:

If your phone is UMA compatible (some, though not all, T-Mo phones are) you can do this...and it works on ANY WiFi hotspot, which is pretty cool.

Also means that you can get away with a $50 wireless router rather than a $150 femtocell. Though OTOH most phones won't work with the tech.
The problem with that is incoming calls. 3g reception inside my building sucks (although edge works perfectly fine). The point of this femtocell is to provide full 3g signal bars for both incoming and outgoing calls (no more missed calls at home). You can make a phone call through voip, but you can't receive calls if there's no 3g/2g reception. Femtocell is their solution.

I usually just disable 3g at home and wont' have any reception issues, but it'd be nice to be able to stay on 3g. I'd definitely like to get my hands on one.
stufried
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... and they'll count the megabytes consumed over your home cable modem towards the 5gig cap!

r81984
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Re: AT&T making big deal about 3G - unlike Verizon/Sprint equip

said by stufried:

... and they'll count the megabytes consumed over your home cable modem towards the 5gig cap!
I do not see how they can do that when you are not using their network.
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del ftl

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Re: AT&T making big deal about 3G - unlike Verizon/Sprint equip

Actually you are in this scenario since all your internet data are processed through at&t's cell network through the femto. This is why Golf n Sun correctly questioned the value of it being 3G and not simply a GSM/GPRS signal.

en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA

Re: AT&T making big deal about 3G - unlike Verizon/Sprint equip

You can still use WiFi for data at home (probably faster anyways).

Matt3
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1 edit
I don't think a 3G phone can make calls via EDGE if it's in 3G mode, so the femtocell supporting 3G is critical. If the price is right, I'll absolutely get one of these, as the signal quality in my house is abysmal. The minute I step outside, full bars, but in my house I frequently get "no service" for hours.

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Re: AT&T making big deal about 3G - unlike Verizon/Sprint equip

said by Matt3:

I don't think a 3G phone can make calls via EDGE if it's in 3G mode, so the femtocell supporting 3G is critical. If the price is right, I'll absolutely get one of these, as the signal quality in my house is abysmal. The minute I step outside, full bars, but in my house I frequently get "no service" for hours.
That may be true (I'm not 100% sure), but AT&T's femtocell must support 3G since running femtocells in a GSM (TDMA air interface) environment would be nearly impossible. HSDPA/UMTS uses a cdma air interface, which these devices are much more compatible with.

Sprint and Verizon Wireless only need to support 1X for voice, since EVDO is data only.
stufried
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Re: AT&T making big deal about 3G - unlike Verizon/Sprint equip

My 3g Blackberry Bold goes to EDGE only when there isn't a 3g signal around. If I lived where there was no 3g signal, my phone would be fine. If there was a weak 3g signal and a perfect EDGE signal, I''d be stuck with the 3g signal. ATT blocked users of the Bold the ability to force their phones to EDGE. (There is a backdoor to hack it in, but it is certainly not ATT sanctioned).

WeSRT4

join:2000-11-20
Mobile, AL

Meh

Coverage isn't an issue here like it is with all the other carriers. Dropping calls and slow data is AT&T's problem. This problem will eventually fix itself as people get tired of AT&T's crap. If enough people leave they won't even need to upgrade the network.

kapil
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Because it's an AT&T Product

...I think we can all rest assured that it will be lackluster, unimpressive, severely crippled and grossly overpriced.
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BosstonesOwn

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Re: Because it's an AT&T Product

I thought that was only for verizon wireless products ?

Wow 2 companies with so much in common.
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kapil
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Re: Because it's an AT&T Product

said by BosstonesOwn:

Wow 2 companies with so much in common.
Hardly surprising as they have the same mother. I think they should formalize their incestuous relationship and finally get married. Everyone knows they're already sleeping with each other.
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BosstonesOwn

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Re: Because it's an AT&T Product

Bahh , they all need to just reform into the mothership , and end the bullshit that was fed to us , and just all go in one direction under one name.
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dave006

join:1999-12-26
Boca Raton, FL
The 3G Microcell is going to retail for $150 before any MIR. Look for a $100 MIR to be offered with some restrictions.

You will have the option of purchasing an unlimited calling plan or just use your existing AT&T cell plan.

Your phones are managed based on the AT&T phone number, so if you allow someone to access your Microcell they can use their existing rate plan without any impact to you.

Dave
cdbma

join:2003-01-19
Bolton, MA

I need this, but I won't pay for it

I live near a major Interstate outside Boston, but I'm lucky to get one bar; while standing on one foot and rubbing my head. I am truly in a dead zone (all vendors) and all this 3G, 4G, etc. stuff doesn't do anything for me - I need bars!

I plan to push ATT to give me a femtocell as a retention incentive, but I suspect they'll say no. I can't hang Verizon over their heads, because they don't work here either.

I'm screwed.

clickwir

join:2001-06-21
Dickson City, PA

Re: I need this, but I won't pay for it

They might not know that Verizon doesn't work there.
dlewis23

join:2005-04-18
Boca Raton, FL

If its not Free, I'm not going to have it.

If there not going to just give these away, then there is no point in having it.

Why should I pay to improve there cell network?
duranr

join:2006-10-14
Leonia, NJ

Re: If its not Free, I'm not going to have it.

Agreed. They should be giving these away. No friggin' way will I pay for the "privilege."

In fact, the only way I'd get one is if they gave them away and I get some kind of kickback either as a discount on my minutes and/or data, for letting them consume some of the bandwidth that I pay for.

en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA
I agree 100%. Why should I pay to take congestion off of AT&T's network.
If I have signal around me, I wouldn't pay anyways (unless it came with something like unlimted voice while on it, or discounted data cost). If I lived out in the boonies where no carrier works, then I might have a case for using it.

swintec
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Re: If its not Free, I'm not going to have it.

said by en102:

I agree 100%. Why should I pay to take congestion off of AT&T's network.
Do you realize you are still on the cell network? There is equipment at the other end handling the femtocell devices, so while yes, you are off the towers in your area, you are connected to a femtocell and the associated equipment at the other end. There is maintenance and costs for that as well.

so far, these really are not being marketed as a solution for everyone. They are used for people with poor reception in there homes...If you have great service in your home then obviously you wouldnt think twice about these. However as soon as I step indoors to my house I lose any usable service and being that I wanted to make full use of my $30 plan with Sprint for unlimited everything except daytime minutes, it was a no brainer for me.

I did get the unit for free though, and just pay $5 per month.
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gridlocked

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Re: If its not Free, I'm not going to have it.

The wireless & back haul sections of the cell network are where the bottlenecks take place and these take the traffic off those freeing up resources and saving carriers money.

said by swintec:

Do you realize you are still on the cell network? There is equipment at the other end handling the femtocell devices, so while yes, you are off the towers in your area, you are connected to a femtocell and the associated equipment at the other end. There is maintenance and costs for that as well.

swintec
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Re: If its not Free, I'm not going to have it.

said by gridlocked:

The wireless & back haul sections of the cell network are where the bottlenecks take place and these take the traffic off those freeing up resources and saving carriers money.

said by swintec:

Do you realize you are still on the cell network? There is equipment at the other end handling the femtocell devices, so while yes, you are off the towers in your area, you are connected to a femtocell and the associated equipment at the other end. There is maintenance and costs for that as well.
You don't think there is backhaul on the other end of the femtocell? Calls still have to be terminated. Switches are still used. Femtocell equipment still has to be maintained. In at least Sprints case, a separate tech support department had to be created and now paid on a regular basis.

Not one carrier has been pushing these as an all out replacement for anyone and everyone. Most don't even mention them unless you mention signal issues at your home.
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iansltx

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Re: If its not Free, I'm not going to have it.

Still, femtocells basically turn a wireless provider into a VoIP provider that uses proprietary technology to connect their phones to the VoIP base station. So their costs, while they don't disappear, go WAY down.

swintec
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Re: If its not Free, I'm not going to have it.

said by iansltx:

So their costs, while they don't disappear, go WAY down.
By how much do they go down? Also, since you are privy to costs of calls using both types of systems, how much does a 5 minute call to a POTS line using your cell phone and a normal tower cost, and how much does that same call cost while connected to a femtocell (please figure in the costs of the equipment it is being routed through).

You also somewhat proved my point, yes it turns them into VoIP providers, but do you know of any VoIP providers that provide unlimited outgoing minutes for nothing? Exactly. We all know why they don't, they have a lot of equipment to support and maintain, not to mention to pay termination costs. Did you expect cell companies to design and implement VoIP systems (with much more robust ATA's at that) and allow customers to make calls on them, all for nothing?
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iansltx

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Re: If its not Free, I'm not going to have it.

You're forgetting that AT&T is already getting $40+ per month (or $10+ per month on a family add-a-line) for service. So they're getting paid for the infrastrucure.

An unlimited cellular plan (voice) is now hovering around $40 per month. Of course this is Verizon and not AT&T but the point stands.

VoIP has a premium of about $10 per month between minute-limited and unlimited service. There are VoIP providers that have unlimited service for under $20 per month.

As such, my estimate is that unlimited calling on femtocell pricing should be at most $10 per line for any cellular provider. Again, the $10 is a marginal cost; AT&T is already getting at least $40 per month from you for a contract plan, probably a good bit more.

For added coverage, the femtocell should be offered for free as a retention tool, or as a monthly charge or upfront purchase for ormal customers. This is in alignment with normal billing practices for extra features. The $5 per month or so would be simply for rental of the device, not per se as an addon to the person's cellular plan.On the buying side of things, the 'cell should probably be subsidized so its price is in the $100-$125 range or people won't pick it up.

On the data side of things, the femtocell should allow for unlimited data if the connection just dumps onto a customer's regular network. If there's a VPN tunnel involved even for data I can understand why this wouldn't be the case, but even then data allotments should be increased because AT&T doesn't have to spend any money between the consumer and their own backbone network to get traffic to where it needs to go. Even then pricing is about $5 per Mbit at most, or a few cents per GB...

Fattychance

@logonix.net
I sure do. Google voice.

Magic Jack is $20/year though so I suppose $3/mo is fair. Considering I am not tying up their network it seems very fair
gridlocked

join:2009-08-21
Bristol, RI
Once that call hits your isp infrastructure its routed to the nearest AT&T POP and off and running. No different at that point than a Vonage call. Does Vonage have backhaul?

I can see it now you get home from work and start making calls over the femtocell but go over your minutes for the month and they start to bill you the overage at say 50 cents a minute for calls.

For a carrier that won't allow free voip apps to be used on the Iphone they are quick to use someone else's infrastructure for their purposes. This is a good example to use for Network Neutrality on cell networks.

Perhaps ISP's should begin blocking Femtocell transmissions.

said by swintec See ProfileYou don't think there is backhaul on the other end of the femtocell? Calls still have to be terminated. Switches are still used. Femtocell equipment still has to be maintained. In at least Sprints case, a separate tech support department had to be created and now paid on a regular basis.

Not one carrier has been pushing these as an all out replacement for anyone and everyone. Most don't even mention them unless you mention signal issues at your home.
[/BQUOTE :



en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA
And you realize that the CUSTOMER is paying for the backhaul to the Internet and allowing AT&T to lower its cost of service ?

This is the reason that some of us prefer UMA - WiFi service, as there's no 'cell' but an unlicensed WiFi connection.
ck9

join:2004-06-12
Portland, OR

I have a Verizon femtocell...

I have Verizon and for some reason I live in a cell phone black hole, constantly dropping calls or worse, not even being able to make calls. But if I walk a block and a half to my brother's house I get perfect reception.

Since my cell sucked I got Vonage so I was the lucky recipient of TWO monthly phone bills.

A week ago I bought a femtocell off Craigslist for under half of what Verizon wants for a new one, got it connected (you have to call Verizon and have them activate it and attach it to your account) and have had no problems with my cell since then. I dropped Vonage and am now down to 1 phone bill each month.

Pros: Have perfect reception, zero dropped calls, great clarity, no longer have to pay Vonage, no monthly access fee (I heard AT&T charges a monthly fee but doesn't use plan minutes)

Cons: No 3G (who cares, I use WiFi at home with my cell anyway), Verizon makes it so it counts as plan minutes (I heard AT&T is unlimited with monthly fee)

If you are like me and paying for a landline/VOIP + cell phone it might be a good investment, especially if you can find one on Craigslist or eBay. Mine will pay for itself in 4 months.

Just my $.02

jimk
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1 edit

Re: I have a Verizon femtocell...

I was in the same situation. I didn't want two phone bills or two phone numbers. AT&T and Sprint have no usable signal at all inside (-104 dBm or worse) , and Verizon and Alltel worked but were weak enough to be annoying at times.

After having enough of that, I actually paid full price for Verizon's femtocell the day it came out... and it has paid for itself vs. having a separate home phone or decent VoIP package.

The lack of 3G was annoying on my Windows Mobile phone, since it caused some minor battery drain, but now that I have switched to a BlackBerry with true push email, this isn't an issue.
djhexer

join:2002-10-07
Reno, NV

Internationally

I wonder if you get one of these Devices and take it overseas and use it via high speed connection (dsl, cable, whatever). Would they still charge you outrageous roaming fees???

•••

clickwir

join:2001-06-21
Dickson City, PA

horrible idea

Sorry, I hate this idea. Making customers be their own service provider and putting all the infrastructure on them... just horrid. I hope it flops big and they admit they just, simply, need more of their own managed towers.

Andy

@ipaccess.com

Re: horrible idea

So would you like a tower in your back yard instead?
ck9

join:2004-06-12
Portland, OR
I agree with you somewhat, I hate the fact that I had to shell out more money to Verizon. But you have to be realistic about coverage due to factors such as terrain, you just can't get coverage everywhere.

I live on the side of a mountain and like I said, I walk a block and a half to my brothers and I get perfect reception. What you are talking about is an ideal world with every place in the world being covered, that's just not realistic.