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US Now has More Femtocells than Carrier Cell Phone Towers..

Verizon 3G Network extenderAt first that may seem like a huge deal but there are currently around 256,000 cellular towers in the US compared to femtocells which now number at about 350,000. These femtocells are called different things by each carrier with Verizon going with Network Extender, AT&T choosing MicroCell, and Sprint with its Airave. The one thing these all have in common is that customers are dishing out $150+ to install and use a mini cellphone tower in your house which uses your broadband internet and your electricity bill to provide you service the carrier was supposed to offer in the first place. I simply feel like we have this equation wrong. Carriers should be paying us to install these devices!

Either way I don’t see femtocells slowing down anytime soon. Carriers are being flooded with connections that their infrastructure can barely handle. Some are turning to Wi-Fi to offload heavy data usage but all of these solutions seem like a bit of a cop out. I am truly hoping that LTE will alleviate some of these pain points but my conversations with experts in LTE do not suggest it will be any easier without a huge influx of additional frequency bandwidth for carriers.

To end of I was curious how many of you have a femtocell in your home? Let me know which one you have and if it works well. I am testing out an AT&T MicroCell and it seems to work decently (beside the stupid GPS requirement) but it has some major failings. For example, if I am on a phone call and come home it will not automatically transfer the call from the AT&T towers to my Microcell. On the other hand it will work the other way…

via IntoMobile

11 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. While I agree in part, I’ll play devil’s advocate here: carriers do not (and cannot) guarantee indoor coverage. Should the carrier have to pony up if the customer resides in a structure that does murder to radio waves?

    In areas where the network is just lackluster, I agree that the carrier should foot the bill (at least partially).

    I think a good compromise would be for the customer to pay for 50% of the femtocell and not be charged a monthly fee for it either.

  2. I understand and have had first hand experience with carriers not being able to provide coverage indoors but to use that as an excuse and blame the lack of coverage only on the customer is where I have a problem. Of course, I don’t expect to have coverage three stories underground in a garage but at home, behind one wall sitting in my living room is a different story. Is this not a “mobile” phone? Maybe it should be called an “outdoor phone.”

  3. I have a feeling that a lot of people are picking up femtocells because their coverage blows in the area, not just indoors though…

    I don’t encounter a lot of times where say a house is completely killing your reception, usually it’s the reception in that area just stinks (if you go outside, it doesn’t do much). The kinds of buildings that generally kill reception are probably work related, in which case I doubt a femtocell is a resolution unless the company decides to add them…

    Even if I say my reception sucks outdoors (which I had Sprint and was averaging about 1 bar), they do not actually help you… They claim the “tower is working fine” and that I should take my handset in to a store…

    So carriers don’t actually guarantee coverage outdoors either…

    I had an Airave and that thing has some serious drawbacks. For one if you have a crappy dsl connection with low bandwidth, it will use almost all of the bandwidth during a conversation. I hope you don’t share the dsl with anything else… If you have a 3g femtocell and even if you have higher bandwidth, I would be a bit worried if you had multiple devices + whatever else already uses your broadband connection…

  4. Yeah carriers only guarantee that they will bill you at the end of the month 🙂
    I actually was forced to purchase a MicroCell from AT&T to fix the crappy reception we have in our manhattan apartment. I live on the first floor in the middle of the most populated city in the US and I barely have 1 bar if I am not standing by the window.

  5. What happened to T-Mobile’s @home device? I believe they discontinued selling it this year. They launched that years ago with very little success but it seems the other 3 tier 1’s are having no problem selling their femto’s. I’m a little confused why T-Mobile pulled out when it seems like it would be the time to go all in.

  6. That’s why I love uma n don’t see why carriers have not made use of it

  7. I talked my way into a free AT&T microcell a couple of months ago. Lousy coverage here and we get full services from them. Didn’t get the caalling plan. Worked OK for about a month but has been flaking out on me lately. Probably (as mentioned) my weak 3mbit DSL (best I can get here), but if it’s the device I’m sure they’ll give me another one. If they don’t upgrade service here soon will be switching to cable.

  8. I have to say that I am considering switching to verizon and also (30% chance) getting the network extender but only because I work one level underground and if it will make my signal perfect I will invest in it.

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