Starhub, one of the Singapore operators, prides itself on providing the latest technology and capabilities for its customers. Singapore is a small, densely populated island with very good cellular service in almost all areas. However, in some areas, high levels of interference, physical limitations of buildings and cellsite locations cause poor or variable signal quality.
Starhub announced a 6 month femtocell trial starting in May 2008, using Huawei and ZTE femtocells. The trial evaluated not just the technical performance of these products, but the effectiveness of 3.5G data services in the home environment.
At the end of November 2008, commercial service was launched using Huawei femtocells.
Priced at US$11 per month, this includes free local voice calls and text/SMS messages for up to 4 handsets. Data services and picturing messaging/MMS are charged at the standard rates.
An end-user review reported a number of interesting points:
- 2 installation engineers visited in order to check coverage throughout the home.
- Installation was very quick and straightforward
- Initially, the femtocell could be moved and connected to any internet broadband connection, resulting in free calls from anywhere in the world. This has now been fixed - access is limited to the Starhub broadband network only.
- Early glitches regarding handoff to/from the external network appear to have been ironed out. The system works reliably.
- The user has cancelled the additional two VoIP phone lines which came with his cable TV service, using the mobile phone as the primary incoming and outgoing device.