Print 23 comment(s) - last by phxfreddy.. on Apr 8 at 3:52 PM

Verizon doesn't say what the femtocells will cost customers

Mobile phone users around the country and the world have noticed for a long time now that their cellular signal drops inside the home or office. This loss of coverage makes sense with the added interference of actually penetrating the walls of a building and competing with other wireless signals that are often very prolific inside a home or office.

For mobile phone users that want to drop landlines or who already have made the move to mobile phone only, the lack of coverage inside the home is a huge issue that can leave you without service or with poor service. Many of the largest cellular providers are looking at solutions to this problem and one of the most promising answers is the femtocell.

A femtocell is exactly what the word sounds like, a small cellular tower built into a package resembling a Wi-Fi router. The femtocell provides a usable wireless signal inside the home or office. The femtocell is good for the cellular provider in one aspect because it sends voice traffic over a user’s broadband network and the carrier doesn’t have to pay for the traffic.

The drawback for carriers to providing the femtocell to customers is the cost. Currently a femtocell costs in the area of $200, though the price is expected to drop to near $150 as more makers enter the market. To get customers to adopt the technology the carrier would have to subsidize the cost.

Sprint's trial femtocells cost $49.99 cost to the subscriber. Sprint also provides unlimited calls in the home to femtocell users for an additional $15 per month. Sprint spokesperson Emmy Anderson says that feedback on the femtocells has been good and there has been no interference between the femtocell and cellular tower.

Many customers will view the femtocell as an extra cost to get what they already pay for—a usable signal. Despite what may present a prejudice in a subscribers mine, Verizon announced at CTIA that it would be deploying femtocells in 2008. Verizon declined to give any specifics on its femtocells like cost and availability.

For some potential users of femtocells a big drawback could be the addition of another box into the home that already has a cable modem, wireless router, home phone, cable box and more to deal with. A French company called Thomson may have the answer to that problem; it is working on a femtocell that is built into a Wi-Fi router.

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Really needed?
By anonymo on 4/4/2008 10:32:08 AM , Rating: 3
I assume there is a market for it if they're actually producing it but do people really get such bad reception in their homes?

My Rogers (in Toronto) service is fine in most single story basements I'm in (EDGE network) and works great in my apt 30 stories up. It also continues to work in all the various hotels I visit around downtown, works under the TD center etc.

On the other hand my Telus phone often ends up in roaming in my apartment and switches to Nextel because CDMA (at least the service offered from Telus) is so horrible. This shouldn't carry the need for this device, rather it should force carriers to stop using such crap networks. Too bad that's a pipe dream.

RE: Really needed?
By BigToque on 4/4/2008 10:39:34 AM , Rating: 2
The second I step into the front door of my house, my signal drops to 1 bar or less.

RE: Really needed?
By bravacentauri83 on 4/4/2008 11:05:20 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Really needed?
By Polynikes on 4/4/2008 11:19:25 AM , Rating: 3
Mine fluctuates between full bars and only one less than full.

RE: Really needed?
By FITCamaro on 4/4/2008 12:56:11 PM , Rating: 2
No problems in my office, or home. At my girlfriends place though, I'm on the first floor of a 3 story building and my signal can get low.

I've no problem paying for one of these things. But I will not pay an extra service fee to use it when I'm already saving them bandwidth by not utilizing the tower to make my call. At least on my end.

RE: Really needed?
By mattclary on 4/4/2008 4:04:36 PM , Rating: 2
Ditto also

RE: Really needed?
By phxfreddy on 4/8/2008 3:52:12 PM , Rating: 2
Can you hear me now?

RE: Really needed?
By tallcool1 on 4/4/2008 12:35:21 PM , Rating: 2
On the other hand, Alltel works great everywhere in my house, however with Nextel I cannot get a signal in my basement.

RE: Really needed?
By GreenEnvt on 4/4/2008 12:58:01 PM , Rating: 2
Same in St. Catharines and Burlington, also on Rogers.
I have to be pretty deep in a building before I have problems.
This is on a HTC Tytn.

My wifes phone is on Virgin Mobile, which uses bell's CDMA network, and it's good great reception indoors too.

RE: Really needed?
By MozeeToby on 4/4/2008 2:08:00 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't it be easier to just put WiFi into phones and let the use VIOP when you are within range. Granted, it wouldn't work for every phone but it seems like it would be simpler than paying an addition $200 for something that only servers one purpose.

RE: Really needed?
By SkeeterLDR2004 on 4/4/2008 4:33:25 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently that service is already available. My sister uses T-Mobile and her phone is enabled to make VoIP calls when in range of a WiFi signal. The downside is that you still burn up your minutes if you go from being on a cell tower to a WiFi connection, or if you move from a WiFi connection to a cell tower. I can't find evidence of the service on T-Mobile's website, though... Anyone have experience with this service?

RE: Really needed?
By SkeeterLDR2004 on 4/4/2008 4:35:32 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Really needed?
By nolisi on 4/4/2008 9:06:04 PM , Rating: 2
Your sis should talk to T-Mo. On my Blackberry, if I transition from a WiFi connection to a tower, it doesn't (and according to service reps, its not supposed to) eat up minutes. Of course, if I transition from a tower to WiFi, it still utilizes all the minutes from before the transition to Wifi.

Sounds great for ICF homes.
By aju on 4/4/2008 11:44:17 AM , Rating: 2
I am building an ICF (insulated concrete form) home and I have been wondering what to use to ensure I have cell coverage inside it. I am thinking it will be hard to get a good signal when all the walls will be 8 inches thick of reinforced concrete all the way to the roof. Putting one of these inside should do the trick. I am thinking that all that concrete will also make it harder for someone to hack/access my in-home wireless network as the signal should weaken significantly when encountering such walls.

RE: Sounds great for ICF homes.
By bldckstark on 4/4/2008 12:38:13 PM , Rating: 2
I have a friend who built his own ICF house. He gets cell signals fine, but it may be because he is near a tower out in the boonies.

For those that don't know, this is a foam concrete form. Hollow foam blocks are stacked up to form a wall, then the blocks are filled with cement. Usually the exterior is bricked, so you have brick exterior, then 2" foam, then ~4" cement, then 2" foam on the interior wall. The blocks have thin strips of metal attached to hang drywall, and pictures and such. When you need to hang something heavy (like a flat panel TV) you run anchors into the cement. No termites, no storm damage, high "R" value, high sound insulation, etc...

Only drawback is it's not the easiest thing to build with and not too many contractors know how to do it. If the foam breaks while filling with cement, it makes a mess, but is repairable.

RE: Sounds great for ICF homes.
By FITCamaro on 4/4/2008 12:59:22 PM , Rating: 1
Concrete can crack though if proper expansion joints aren't put in place. And even then. For warmer climates though it sounds fine. I like brick homes. Don't have to paint it.

RE: Sounds great for ICF homes.
By Swaid on 4/4/2008 11:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
The "joints" you see in concrete are not for expansion, they are break points. Those joint lines are there to control where the concrete will crack when the slabs inevitably settle.

RE: Sounds great for ICF homes.
By somedude1234 on 4/5/2008 4:45:27 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think he's referring to the 'crack control' notches that are put into concrete... he's referring to an actual 'expansion joint'.

I had a patio put in last year. The 'crack control' notches form a cross through the middle of the patio.

The 'expansion joint' is a piece that sits between the patio and the existing home foundation, and allows the fresh concrete to expand and contract at a different rate than the 15 year old existing foundation.

RE: Sounds great for ICF homes.
By Swaid on 4/5/2008 7:58:15 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, that material there that is places between the existing foundation and the new(er) slab is more of a slip joint (which can serve a double purpose). Since your patio is only ~4in thick compared to your foundation (which is set below the frost line) which could be only 30in below grade, the patio slab needs to be able to move (up and down) independently from the foundation. Yes there can be concerns for the need of expansion joints (roadways), but for a lot of other purposes, there is less of a concern/need and the greater concern is controlling the inevitable cracking (at least thinner pours).

Interesting idea
By MrBlastman on 4/4/2008 10:30:55 AM , Rating: 2
I used to live in an area where my signal would go to squat the moment I stepped into my home. This would have been very helpful there as I don't use a land line anymore.

One thought - say you had a big download running, does this mean that the quality of the signal (or speech being sent over the wireless communication channel) would degrade significantly like VOIP? I would imagine yes, and am curious as to how much compression this standard uses.

There are tools right now on PC's, such as Teamspeak or Ventrillo which really don't degrade when you are using quite a bit of bandwidth. A friend of mine who has VOIP phone service, does loose quite a bit of audible quality (even to the point of not being able to understand it).

RE: Interesting idea
By 67STANG on 4/4/2008 11:39:32 AM , Rating: 2
Not really a new idea by any means. I've worked with BDA's (bi-directional amplifiers) for a few years now, and they've been mainstream for a while. Of course, a BDA is about $2k and is much more powerful than this, so this is just a scaled down version..

By Webreviews on 4/4/2008 1:42:47 PM , Rating: 2
I kept dropping conference calls from work whenever I was on the computer with the VPN connection in the basement, so the company sprang for a zBoost cell phon extender.

The zBoost cell phone signal booster creates a cell zone in a small area around the booster. It's dual-band and covers all phones except Nextel (I use a BB from Verizon).

Basically zBoost is a transceiver that sits in my basement, and coming out of the back end is a coax that goes up to my second floor and has an antenna screwed into the coax. It transports the signal from my basement, where there is no signal, up to the second floor where there is. I'd rather have a femtocell, but the zBoost seems to be doing the trick for now. I get two bars in the basement now.

T-Mobile WiFi phones
By ninjit on 4/4/2008 2:09:42 PM , Rating: 2
T-mobile has a nice add-on feature for certain Wi-Fi enabled phones, called HotSpot@Home.

Lets you roam automatically onto your Wi-Fi connection, as well as any other open networks.
For an additional monthly fee they give you unlimited calling (doesnt count towards your plan minutes)

The biggest benefit I see for me, is that I could go to europe and still use my phone on a friend's WiFi network or coffee shop as if I was in the US.

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