Small cells

Femto Watch: Vodafone Expands Footprint

New trials, services, advertising campaigns, and silicon shipments top the Femtocell news this week.

  • Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has started femtocell trials in Greece and Egypt, Light Reading Mobile has learned. With these latest trials, Vodafone's femto activities now span five markets. The operator offers commercial services in the UK and Spain with femtos from Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , respectively. The operator also recently started using the AlcaLu home base stations in Qatar to boost 3G coverage in public spaces, such as shopping malls and the carrier's retail shops.

  • Back in the UK, Vodafone had to scrap its national marketing campaign for its Sure Signal femtocell after the country's advertising watchdog ruled that the operator's original ads were misleading. So it's out with the old slogan -- which was, "Only Vodafone can guarantee mobile signal in your home" -- and in with the new, which is "Boost your signal... Vodafone Sure Signal helps you get a great signal at home." (See Vodafone Femto Ads Banned .)

  • Wisconsin has emerged as a veritable hotbed for femtos. The state will soon have not one but two operators offering services now that rural operator Mosaic Telecom announced plans to launch the high-speed packet access (HSPA)-based Mobile HomeCell in the fourth quarter this year.

    Mosaic joins Cellcom Inc. , which offers a CDMA-based Enterprise Femtocell from AirWalk Communications Inc. . According to Mosaic CEO Rick Vergin, the femto access point will cost $49.95 and the femto service will cost $9.95 per month. The monthly service charged will be waived, however, for Mosaic's quad-play subscribers. (See Femtocells Go to Wisconsin, Cellcom Picks Starent for Femtos, and AirWalk Unveils Its Enterprise Femto .)

    Mosaic, which launched cellular services in November 2009 on advanced wireless services (AWS) spectrum, is also the first announced customer for Airvana Inc. 's HSPA femtos and its systems integrator partner Nokia Networks . (See NSN, Airvana Score US Femto Deal.)

  • What's the opposite of a femtocell? Deltenna Ltd. 's WiBE (wireless broadband enabler) device fits that description. The UK startup unveiled the rural signal booster last week as the Femtocells World Summit was going on.

    The self-install device uses the 3G network to create a WiFi hotspot in the home, bringing broadband access connections up to 2 Mbit/s to areas that cannot be reached by wireline infrastructure or served reliably by 3G networks. The WiBE is similar in concept to Novatel Wireless Inc. (Nasdaq: NVTL)'s MiFi 3G/WiFi router, except that it uses clever antennas and alignment algorithms to pick up weak 3G signals.

  • Femto chip startup Percello Ltd. claims it will have shipped 300,000 units by the end of the second quarter this year, according to Yoav Volloch, the company's VP of business development, who was speaking at the Femtocells World Summit in London. (See Percello Intros HSPA+ Femto SoC.)

    And here's the best of the rest of this week's femto news:

    — Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

  • COMMENTS Add Comment
    paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:31:14 PM
    re: Femto Watch: Vodafone Expands Footprint


    Okay, I have railed enough about AT&T's femto pricing.  Question for you folks out there....Did you not know that cell site amps are available that allow you to get better coverage in a small area or large?  The reason this might be more attractive for you is that these should be carrier independent given that it is amplifying the cell signal NOT terminating them.

    They are not cheap, but on the other hand don't come with any extra charges.



    shygye75 12/5/2012 | 4:31:13 PM
    re: Femto Watch: Vodafone Expands Footprint

    Cell signal amps also have another attraction for end-users with an ax to grind -- you aren't paying to ease the traffic burden on your carrier's local cell network. The one-time cost is a bit steep ($150-$200), but it can be rationalized if you're eliminating the cost of wireline service -- which was the original intent of femtos. And, as you note, signal amps are carrier-independent.

    krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 4:31:12 PM
    re: Femto Watch: Vodafone Expands Footprint

    And a femtocell doesn't have to come with any charges as well.


    Femtocell; you use the minutes and data from your plan.

    Booster; you use the minutes and data from your plan.


    The femtocell is a more elegant solution and can be more easily placed.  You also have support for it.  if there is an issue, you know who to talk to.  Try that with a booster that just doesn't seem to work right.  The carrier won't touch it, the manufacturer can blame the carrier.

    paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:31:12 PM
    re: Femto Watch: Vodafone Expands Footprint


    With the downside that the:

    femto - locked into your carrier forever or buy one from your new carrier

    amp - laugh at your carrier as you switch.  heck get a no contract deal - it still works.  Even better, when your friend comes over it works for him/her as well.

    When we originally discussed femtos they seemed like a great way to offload data without having to have a WiFi enabled phone.  Save cost and power on the device.  Now that we are saying that we really want data on WiFi, I am trying to figure out what is wrong with a 2G phone.

    And you also made an assumption that your broadband carrier is the same as your wireless carrier.  Not a good assumption and you can have a very nice little blame game right there.



    krishanguru143 12/5/2012 | 4:31:11 PM
    re: Femto Watch: Vodafone Expands Footprint

    And a booster is locked to a technology as well.


    If you have poor coverage where you live, all you get is a boosted poor signal.  So you may need to install an antennae so that the booster can get a better signal.  This may not be for everyone.  Lastly, some of the boosters that can handle an entire house, they are much more expensive than a femtocell.


    I'm not saying I WE need data on WiFi.  YOU are saying it, so leave the WE out of it.


    Try 2G while away from WiFi.  How does that work for you?  Before you say EDGE/GPRS, technically that is 2.5 and 2.75G and not 2G.  2G would would CSD and you can expect about 9600 to 14400.

    paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:31:10 PM
    re: Femto Watch: Vodafone Expands Footprint


    Just remember elsewhere on this site it is stated that Femtos are not for data.  So, toss data aside as they are only for voice.


    Take a read there....the main femto pusher is saying use WiFi for data it is better.  So, if data is intended for WiFi then what is the point of a femto to cover your house since according to the article basically all houses have WiFi.  Which of course leads to the idea of 2G.



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