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. 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