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$250 'network extender' offers no-service-charge coverage boost, but no 3G support yet

Verizon Intros Femtocell

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
1/26/2009
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Verizon Wireless today launches its first femtocell -- a $250 box that will improve voice and data connections for users living in difficult coverage areas, but won't support 3G EV-DO networks for faster downloads in the home.

The Verizon Wireless Network Extender, which the company is calling a "mini-cell site", is made by Samsung Corp. for the operator. The CDMA radio boasts a coverage range of 5,000 feet and allows voice and data calls to be routed back through the user's wired home network.

The largest CDMA operator in the U.S. is charging $249.99 plus tax for the box but won't be tapping users for a service fee after the initial purchase.

Verizon describes the Network Extender as "ideal for customers who want to boost their wireless signal when making voice calls, sending text/picture/video messages, accessing Mobile Web or accessing Smartphone/BlackBerry data in situations that could include houses with structural barriers, in basement rooms, or in some remote, mountainous or hilly areas." The femto will also boost coverage for those living on the edge of Verizon's network deploymemts.

The initial user questions around the mini base station are likely to center around the cost of the box and the lack of 3G support. The only current rival on the U.S. market, the Airave -- also made by Samsung -- doesn't offer 3G support either, but only costs $99. Sprint, however, does charge a monthly fee for the femto subscription.

The lack of EV-DO 3G support will likely raise some eyebrows, given the initial cost of the unit. A Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) veep, talking to Unstrung at the CES show recently, suggested that the main reason carriers wanted femtocells in the U.S. was to relieve some download pressure brought on by the latest wave of 3G smartphones. Cisco is reportedly working with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) on its femtocell deployment project. (See AT&T Targets Q2 Femto Launch and CES: AT&T's Femtos in the Fall?)

The extender concept, however, is actually right in line with what Verizon Wireless's CTO, Tony Melone, told us he wanted out of femtocells last year: better indoor penetration for voice. (See the video below.)



Verizon has been vocal about its interest in femtocells for months now. (See Verizon Eyes Femtos and Verizon Eyes Femtos for 2009.) In fact, the Network Extender follows hard on the footsteps of the box that many expected to be the big V's first femto but which turned out to be a fancy home hub. (See Verizon's Home Hub-Bub (But No Femto).)

Verizon Wireless’s Network Extender is available online and at "select Verizon Wireless Communications Stores."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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joset01
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joset01,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:13:21 PM
re: Verizon Intros Femtocell
So, if you pay $250 and no further fees for a femto is that a good deal?

DJ
paolo.franzoi
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paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:13:19 PM
re: Verizon Intros Femtocell

I am really underwhelmed by this. If they built a router to replace my existing home router with all its features and gave me a femto on top of it for under $100 - MAYBE I might consider it.

But for this? Just give me a phone that includes a VoIP application over WiFi. I already OWN a WiFi router. Since they require a broadband setup, why not assume I have WiFi. My favorite bit is disclaimers around Wireless Broadband as WAN side. If I had a good Wireless Broadband connection, I probably don't need a femtocell.

If this is what is coming for femtocells, it will become the Ryan Leaf of the wireless business.

seven
freetoair
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freetoair,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:13:18 PM
re: Verizon Intros Femtocell
bad deal.
what am i getting?

I have a desktop PC, laptop and a smartphone.
Why do i need/want this?

Because I have a coverage/capacity/bandwidth problem?
gocowboys
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gocowboys,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:13:17 PM
re: Verizon Intros Femtocell
I happen to be in a coverage dead zone (for Verizon wireless). Guess that the TV ads are not all that true...what a surprise! Anyhow, I am tired of going out on the porch and lifting one arm South, holding my leg and then dialing with my nose. For $250 and no fees, it is in the price range of a new phone. For that, I will happily give it a shot.

I looked at the coverage and 5,000 square feet represents about 70' by 70'. I am not worried about the neighbors using the femto...they are much further away than that. In addition, my upload speed (measured) is running approximately 3 Mbps. So, 40 kbps is not going to mess anything up.

I will let you know how I make out. Can you hear me now?

freetoair
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freetoair,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:13:17 PM
re: Verizon Intros Femtocell
no one else gets it either...

...but vendors and the media/analysts hype it...so carriers try it...why not...

again this dog is on the same path as FMC (which was a media/vendor/analyst favorite not so long ago)...all hail FMC -- all hail Femto...yeah yeah yeah
macster
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macster,
User Rank: Light Bulb
12/5/2012 | 4:13:17 PM
re: Verizon Intros Femtocell
I don't get it. You pay the phone company to provide the service including coverage and backhaul. Now they want you to pay them for a femtocell and you get to pay for the coverage and backhaul they are meant to be providing.

So if this thing has a 5000 foot (1.5km!) range no doubt you will be providing backhaul and coverage for quite a few other people. Even if that figure is out by an order of magnitude it's still a very big area. Perhaps one reason why there is no EVDO support.

Sounds like a great deal. For the phone company.

For doing this they should be paying you.

I predict market failure.


-------------------------------------------------

Usage of home Node B's (femtos) depend on "user groups" (or closed user groups). Femtos and UEs will have such information. As such, unlike unsecured WiFi, you don't unwillingly share your connection.
lrmobile_millomar
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lrmobile_millomar,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:13:17 PM
re: Verizon Intros Femtocell
I don't get it. You pay the phone company to provide the service including coverage and backhaul. Now they want you to pay them for a femtocell and you get to pay for the coverage and backhaul they are meant to be providing.

So if this thing has a 5000 foot (1.5km!) range no doubt you will be providing backhaul and coverage for quite a few other people. Even if that figure is out by an order of magnitude it's still a very big area. Perhaps one reason why there is no EVDO support.

Sounds like a great deal. For the phone company.

For doing this they should be paying you.

I predict market failure.
macster
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50%
macster,
User Rank: Light Bulb
12/5/2012 | 4:13:16 PM
re: Verizon Intros Femtocell
Cowboy,

That's true. For the likes of AT&T, having a femto solution is useful, given the dreadful indoor coverage in NA (unlike Europe where one can estimate the indoor traffic to be about 80%).

You ought to have no worries about others "tapping" into your connection - think secured WiFi (something like that).

Femtos make use of DSL specs, e.g. TR69, etc. Nothing wrong with that, but my concerns are around this. Especially in the (majority?) of cases where the mobile operator does not have their own DSL network.

Oh, and handover issue are not sorted yet in standards, from macro to home node b - so your call will drop when you get out of the car into your home - lol.



Mac

P.S. I hear you loud and clear :)
paolo.franzoi
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paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:13:12 PM
re: Verizon Intros Femtocell

Just FYI, I had a UMA phone from T-mobile and could access my secure wifi at home. I switched to a G-1 because a) my t-mobile signal got beter and b) I have a cable modem and can tell you first hand about poor voip quality over cable (over DSL no problemo).

seven
joset01
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joset01,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:13:12 PM
re: Verizon Intros Femtocell
Let us know how it goes. Thanks

DJ
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