Femtocell Technology

Have you heard of “Femtocell”?

Well you should keep your eyes on this technology. It can revolutionize the way you use your cell phone in buildings where coverage is spotty or the signal weak or you just want a faster consistent connection. Basically, Femtocell is an indoor Base Station that allows your Cell Phone to make cell phone calls through whatever Internet service you have present at that location. It is able to do this because the Femtocell is actually a transceiver http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transceiver that operates on the Cellular Frequencies within the users localized environment (home / office). Essentially when you connect to the Femtocell you are using the local Base Station for your call instead of the carrier’s wireless network directly.

The Femtocell then sends that information via the Internet to the Cellular Network operated by your Wireless network provider (AT&T / T-Mobile for example) and allows you to communicate the same as if you were using the Wireless provider’s network. The exception is you are using a local Base Station which with an adequate Internet connection has a reliable signal in your environment resulting in superior performance on your cell phone, less battery drain (more on that later), and if you get a Femtocell with optional WiFi service integrated (like your wireless WiFi router), a superior browsing experience.

For a few simple visual graphics that lay out how it works

There are carriers that have embrased this technology and others that are not so crazy about it. Either way, the makers of Femtocell equipment argue that the “bandwidth” inside of your home of office is “public”, meaning the carriers don’t have ownership of the bandwidth in these environments giving them the right to make use of those frequencies to provide you a cellular connection that bypasses the wireless network provider’s wireless network.

For example one company you may have heard of, MagicJack has actually developed a product that allows people to make calls using their cell phone even if they don’t have a cell phone provider. They created a MagicJack Femtocell that simply treats your cell phone like a standard old cordless house phone when making a phone call. It does this by using the cellular network frequencies your cell phone uses. Only instead of routing the call to the cellular network via the Internet it routes the call the same as if you were using a plain old house phone with the MagicJack service. Needless to say, some wireless carriers have balked at this use as using their “licensed” spectrum to make calls that are not routed through their network makes them uneasy.

Remember, your Femtocell is only as good / reliable as your Broadband connection so before jumping on the Femtocell bandwagon, make sure your Broadband connection is from a reliable provider. Additionally, I have no idea if there could be / are any security concerns routing your calls through the Internet this way so you may want to have your IT folks look into this if you are operating in an enterprise environment.