Femtocell Operator News and Opinons

Verizon following Sprint with voice oriented 2G CDMA femtocell solving poor coverage

Woman Mobile Phone Call at Home Whilst some operators are trialling mainstream 3G HSPA femtocells and looking at a range of business cases, Verizon seem to be planning to follow Sprint by launching a 2G CDMA femtocell to solve localised coverage problems. They don't see the need for data offload at this stage and appear to be planning a voice only approach.

We were expecting Verizon to launch their femtocells before end 2008
Verizon is progressing its earlier hints about offering femtocells for domestic use. The Verizon Wireless CTO had said at CTIA back in April 2008 that they would launch femtocells before the end of the year. They are the largest operator in the US (having bought Alltel this year, they have more subscribers than AT&T), and operate a CDMA network. Their long term plan is to migrate to LTE, the worldwide 4G cellular technology due for initial launch in some countries as soon as 2010.

Verizon have filed for femtocell approval with the FCC
Cellphonesignal highlighted this FCC filing which grants approval to Verizon to use the Samsung SCS-26UC4 femtocell products commercially. The product appears to be the same version of the Samsung Ubicell, used by Sprint for their Airave offer. It supports dual-band (800Mhz and 1900MHz) operation and can handle up to 4 simultaneous calls.

But it's still 2G and does not support EV-DO high speed data. Samsung's roadmap is said to include a data capable model, but that doesn't appear to be what's included in this filing.

Verizon doesn't have the choice between femtocells and Dual-Mode WiFi 
Steve Shaw, over at UMAToday, commenting on this development points out that CDMA operators don't have the choice between femtocells and dual-mode WiFi UMA service. There are no handsets commercially available to support this combination.

Verizon are about to start Femtocell trials
From a recent interview with the Verizon CTO, Mark Wegleitner, the company is about to start femtocell trials.

He reveals some interesting thoughts about femtocells, dual mode WiFi handsets and LTE Read the article for additional context, but specifically:

  • Femtocells and dual-mode handsets solve the same problem of poor coverage in the home
  • Both had issues which will be overcome (femtocells = cost; dual mode WiFi = handset choice)
  • They're looking at femtocells today for coverage purposes, not additional features
  • Not currently looking at LTE femtocells for additional features, but haven't ruled this out in the future
  • Always had a vision of home networking that is more than just MoCA or WiFi


Not in the shops before Christmas
So I wouldn't expect these Verizon femtocells to be in the shops for Christmas 2008, but could well see Verizon launch a CDMA femtocell sometime in 2009.

Updated January 2009

Verizon Wireless Network Extender was launched on 26th January 2009.

Follow this operator's activities on the Verizon Femtocell page on this site.

Verizon are reported to be planning a femtocell launch using the Samsung product on 26th January 2009, using the brand name "Wireless Network Extender". The list price is reported to be $250, much higher than Sprint's $99 for the comparable Airave service. 

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