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Small cells

Picture This: Moto's Femto Frame

Imagine this: When little Timmy first calls from college to tell you he's bringing home two month's worth of dirty laundry, you can pull up the ungrateful brat's image on the very same digital picture frame that is helping to broadcast his sniveling call into your family home.

Seems like a bad 60s pop-art science fiction film fantasy, but it's real. Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is planning to show off a digital picture frame with a femtocell built in at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2009 in Las Vegas this week.

"It looks an awful lot like an ordinary digital picture frame, that's the whole idea," says a Motorola spokesperson of the CDMA 9100 Series femtocell.

A femtocell is a mini base station that improves voice and data coverage for cellphones in the home or office while connecting to the carrier network through a cable or DSL connection. You can learn more about the femtocell market by reading our new report on the technology: Who Makes What: Femtocells.

There's a Motorola video demo of the mini-base station below:

The fact that the femtocell is a CDMA-only device at present suggests that Motorola is targeting the North American market with its new frame. CDMA operator Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) already has Airave femtocells out on the market, while Verizon Wireless is planning a launch this year. (See Verizon Eyes Femtos for 2009 and Sprint Goes Femto.)

Certainly, Motorola, is hoping that building a femto in a frame will encourage consumers to buy the object for its other capabilities -- and lessen subsidy worries for carriers rather than just selling them a "box of blinking lights."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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