Sprint Takes Femtos Wholesale
The CDMA operator says, however, that it isn't going to make the femtocell available to some of its biggest MVNO partners, like Virgin Mobile USA Inc. (NYSE: VM), because the home base station system doesn't work with pay-as-you-go systems.
"It doesn’t work on prepaid and right now, we do not have plans to make it so," a Sprint spokeswoman tells Unstrung in an email reply to questions.
Sprint is touting the femtocell as a way for wireless resellers to increase customer satisfaction. The tiny base stations create a home CDMA network covering up to 5,000 square feet, and they can also give a wireless angle to cable and wireline providers at a time when many are ditching home lines in favor of mobile devices. (See Sprint Extends Femtos .)
Many of Sprint's best-known MVNO partners are prepaid, or pay-as-you-go operators. Sprint isn't saying how many of its MVNOs do monthly contract, or "post-paid" services, which would make them eligible to use the femtocells.
The operator also isn't telling how many of the $99 Samsung femtocells it has sold through direct channels so far. Sprint has had the Airave boxes available nationwide for nearly a year now.
Sprint and Verizon Wireless are the only two wireless operators in the U.S. to have launched femtocells. (See Verizon Eyes Femtos for 2009.) AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is in trials and expected to launch its first home base station later this year. (See AT&T the Latest to Jump on the Femto Wagon.)
– Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung