Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Femtocells, Sprint's last ditch effort

I should get off the subject and go about my business, but this femtocell thing is intriguing. It uses your home broadband to place calls and connect to the internet via WiFi. Sprint has invested lock, stock and barrel in this new technology, so if it fails they are pretty much done. Other U.S. carriers have eaten away at their market share steadily for years. Femtocells HAVE to be their saving grace.

Theoretically the femtocells will revolutionize the way we use our phones, the AIRAVE is the first American market test, if this thing catches on…well the traffic jam could be significant. To begin with what kind of voice quality can we expect? With all the other traffic on the net something is bound to get lost in the mix. Will the internet be able to handle an influx of millions of voice packets flying around? Privacy concerns enter in to the femtocell equation as well. Are these concerns well founded? It’s too soon to tell.

Ultimately, the convenience of femtocell may outweigh most concerns. The ability to travel between countries without paying roaming or swapping SIMs is a big draw. The company that is developing the chip technology is the Bath, England based PicoChip. Ubiqusys, the main vendor in England, promises “speed and coverage” are the hallmarks of femtocell.

The odd thing about the femtocell is the carriers still expect you to pay for using the multimedia data transfer, why anyone would pay extra just to have this content on your phone is beyond me, if the market it right, people will. Eventually, there maybe no need to invest in expanding wireless cell coverage through towers, instead the beefing up of the internet’s infrastructure will become the priority.

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