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Small cells

3G Femtos Want to Be Free

5:45 PM -- Let's face it, nobody wants to pay for a femtocell.

As a consumer it feels like a slap in the face to shell out over hundred bucks to improve cell coverage in your home. Surely that's something the carrier should fix?

That's why its interesting that Sprint has broken with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s model of charging for its 3G femtocell. The third-ranked US carrier may give you one for free if you meet its undisclosed criteria.

Will other carriers follow suit? Maybe. Right now, a free femto works for Sprint if it gets to retain a monthly subscriber because of better coverage in the house.

AT&T isn't losing these high-value customers like Sprint. In fact, it added subs last quarter. As all of the major carriers look to take users off other operators' books in a saturated market, however, a free femto might become an attractive anti-churn option.

At the moment, AT&T isn't even making it attractive to buy a femto -- as Light Reading's big cheese editor, Phil Harvey, found when he wanted to boost coverage in his Texan homestead. "They don't make it easy," says Harvey. He found that he couldn't buy online and have it shipped but instead had to visit an AT&T store and wait "something like 40 minutes" behind the iPhone-crazed hordes. "When your number finally comes up you have to go through nine employees because there's only one guy in the store who knows what it is," Harvey chuckles. He hasn't bought a femtocell yet.

— Dan Jones, Cheddar Cheese Editor, Light Reading Mobile

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:25:44 PM
re: 3G Femtos Want to Be Free

> As a consumer it feels like a slap in the face to shell out over hundred bucks to improve cell coverage in your home.


Bingo. That's why I've never even considered a femtocell. 


mmalcy 12/5/2012 | 4:25:44 PM
re: 3G Femtos Want to Be Free

AT&T Told me they wanted me to pay for the femtocell and $20 a month, I asked them what they were smoking as I already pay them to much for poor coverage

falsecut 12/5/2012 | 4:25:42 PM
re: 3G Femtos Want to Be Free

The $20 gets you unlimited calling from home.  Some people, especially if you have a number of people living in the home and calling (think teenagers) could benefit by not needing as many minutes on their plan.  The cost might wash out.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:25:39 PM
re: 3G Femtos Want to Be Free

That, I can understand, in some cases.


But for me, it would probably come down to me paying the operator for the "privilege" of improving their network, and that ain't gonna happen.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:25:33 PM
re: 3G Femtos Want to Be Free

I think, for the time being at least, you can whistle for it if you think AT&T is going to pay for your femtocell...

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:25:31 PM
re: 3G Femtos Want to Be Free

IF you did get free home calling that would be wonderful, but of course those minutes at home eat into your minutes.


So, that is why I keep saying that the amplifiers are a better deal for most people.  Femtos lock you into your carrier, where amplifiers do not.  Femtos work for you but not your friends on different carriers.  Are they perfect?  Nope, but they seem a lot more flexible (assuming that you have a signal strength issue) than Femtos.


Recall that our friends at AT&T want you to use your home wifi for data...which really leaves the value of Femtos in this model as puzzling.


seven


 

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:25:31 PM
re: 3G Femtos Want to Be Free

The benefit is that AT&T doesn't get complaints about dropped calls from your fancy new iPhone at home.

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