Monday, February 2, 2009

Mobile Networking: Pros and Cons of Femtocells

This article discusses a very new technology that enables cell-phone users to enjoy the same quality and signal strength indoors, that they do outdoors. This new technology is called femtocell, and it is the smallest unit of a cellular network, small even than Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Femtocell technology has been something that has been discussed and rumored about for a few years now, but only Sprint Nextel Corp. has products available to the public. Analysts projected that there would be a "flood" of these devices into the marketplace by the end of 2008, but that projection has now been moved back to late 2009 or even 2010. 
A femtocell device will act as a "miniature cellular base station or a mini tower" inside of consumers' homes and businesses. The femtocell device will reroute your calls through a broadband connection instead of running them through the main cellular network, thus reducing the need for cellular carriers to build expensive new towers. Femtocell devices will have a range of about 5,000 square feet and are protected by a firewall. You can restrict the number of people who can use your femtocell tower by entering their particular cellphone number into the device. This will quell the critics who complain about anyone being able to benefit from a personal purchase as this. 
In September 2007, Sprint Nextel launched the "Airave", their preliminary femtocell box, to Denver and Indianapolis. With those test markets being a success, the box was offered nationwide in August 2008. The Airave box plugs directly into your existing router and allows three callers to use the service at the same time. This product is the first of its kind, but it is projected that the other major carriers aren't far behind with their femtocell devices. I feel this will be a very successful and highly demanded product simply based on my past experiences of poor cell-phone reception upon entering buildings. This seems to be a common problem, and as femtocell technology grows and gets better, the need for landlines could soon be obsolete.

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