Any SFR 3G subscribers who request femtocells will be sent the little device, which plugs into the operator's Neufbox home gateways. The femto costs €49 (US$66), but customers are automatically reimbursed for this charge as soon as they connect and activate the device.
U.K.-based femtocell specialist Ubiquisys Ltd. supplies the femto technology, and SFR's free offer will start in the middle of October.
Why this matters
This is the first official launch of a free femtocell service in Europe, but not the first in the world. Japan's SoftBank Corp. , for example, has been offering free femtos (also supplied by Ubiquisys), while Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) offers its 3G femtos for free to qualifying customers in the U.S. (See More 3G Femtos Coming to the US and Softbank Kicks Off Free Femto Giveaway .)
SFR's move to offer femtos for free could be the start of a trend in the region that would change the operator business model for the small base stations that resolve indoor coverage problems.
Catch up on the femto action in France.
- SFR to Bolt Femtos on Home Gateways
- France Fires Up Femtocells
- SFR Femto Spotted
- Will Femtos Fry the French?
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile