Small cells

SFR to Bolt Femtos on Home Gateways

French operator SFR has unveiled a souped-up home gateway, dubbed the neufbox Evolution, that will feature an add-on femtocell module from early next year.

SFR launched the device with its new triple-play service package that costs €34.90 (US$47) per month. The neufbox Evolution can deliver 3DTV and films and it supports ADSL or FTTH access. Also packaged with the new home gateway is a 3G USB stick (or clé) for €1 ($1.35), which enables the mobile data network to be used as a backup connection to access Internet, TV, and phone services when there are technical problems with the ADSL or fiber service. The 3G USB stick also comes with three hours of usage so that users can access the SFR 3G network when they are on the go.

The femtocell add-on module, which plugs into the neufbox Evolution, will be available in the first quarter next year. An SFR spokeswoman says the operator will reveal the pricing for the femto add-on when it launches next year.

Why this matters
This is a first for the femto industry: SFR is the first operator to announce that it will offer a femtocell that is integrated with its home gateways. Even though the femtocell is not fully integrated into the gateway in one box, the add-on module is a big step toward combining femtocells, and the mobile devices they connect, with the media and entertainment services available in the home. So, SFR's move marks the start of a new phase for femtocells, which could result in new kinds of services for the small home base stations that up to now have only been used to improve indoor voice coverage.

SFR launched a standalone femtocell access point from Ubiquisys Ltd. for €199 ($269) in November 2009. (See France Fires Up Femtocells.)

For more
For more on femtocells in France and the background on SFR's femto supplier Ubiquisys, here is some extra reading:

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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