Monday, July 23, 2007

Tiny chance for Femto

Tip 'o the hat to my colleague John Walko for his good roundup on the recent activity in 3G home basestations aka femtocells. These little boxes are gaining increasing interest among carriers who recently formed the Femto Forum to promote the boxes that compete with home Wi-Fi routers. They aim to shift more data traffic to carrier nets and fend off the rise phone calls using Wi-Fi links to the Internet.

According to Walko's article, the carriers have internal disputes about how to handle key standards in the boxes as well as how to get them down to consumer prices. I have to wonder about the business case which sounds to me like it was dreamed up by Homer Simpson.

Walko's article says carriers are concerned about whether they can get femto cells down to $70. Hello! My last Wi-Fi router was $35 which was amazing discounted to zero by a manufacturer's $35 rebate! I don't know how that worked for Linksys, but it worked for me just fine.

Also, I can see buying one of these if you are in a rare situation of having poor cellular coverage at home, but that's a femto minority of people I know. And no one will be motivated to buy the boxes so they can give up free Wi-Fi calls and start paying carriers again. Duh!

The article quotes market researchers who say this market, like so many they track, is headed up and to the right like a proverbial hockey stick. What are these guys smoking?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What about having them offered for free as part of long-term contracts (12-month, 24-month, ??) together with other benefits such as lower service fees (or even free access) whenever the latter are accessed over femtos?

Is that a good offer?