updated 02:50 pm EDT, Thu June 25, 2009
AT&T femtocell due in 2009
Wireless provider AT&T remains on track for a national 3G femtocell launch before the end of 2009, according to a senior company executive speaking at a conference in London earlier this week. While a more defined date is not known, AT&T's launch will be the first UMTS-based 3G femto service in the US. The service is already being tested by some 200 users thanks to trials of 3G MicroCell home stations.
Before the full-blown launch, the limited trial will expand into a marketing trial customers could be part of by visiting their local AT&T stores, although only in a few large cities. AT&T executive director for radio access network delivery, Gordon Mansfield, said at the Femtocells World Summit on Tuesday that the launch will not include a femtocell integrated into a residential gateway but rather a standalone 3G femtocell. The official supplier of those femto units has not been revealed, but the current 3G MicroCell is provided by Cisco.
With the femtocells, AT&T is hoping to cash in on new services, reduced churn and macro network capacity gains possible by offloading data traffic onto femtocells. Mansfield said integrated femtocells are also being investigated but not necessarily in the way some people think, saying putting a femtocell into a residential gateway is just one aspect.
Femtocells serve as mini cell towers in homes that have poor cellular coverage and also transfer data to connected devices using the home's broadband Internet connection instead of a handset's cellular link. [via Unstrung]