Feature Article

June 24, 2009

Vodafone Rolls Out Home 3G Femtocell in the U.K.

Vodfone, a mobile communications provider, is launching a new system in the U.K. that reportedly will improve mobile signal strength for people in their homes.
The carrier’s Access Gateway technology, which is similar to the size of a router, is a small box that can be plugged into a broadband line, Reuters said. The device, which features the first commercial 3G femtocell, can support four calls at any time. And as a result, it will improve the strength of home-based calls, the company said.
“The Vodafone Access Gateway will boost indoor mobile phone coverage for customers who today, find they need to move around the rooms in their home to get a consistent signal strength,” Ian Shepherd, consumer director of Vodafone U.K., said in a statement.
The Access Gateway service is the first of its kind in Europe, according to Vodafone. It will be available starting July 1. The device is expected to cost $263.60.
 Vodafone had been testing the femtocell technology for several months before it decided to unveil the service, the U.K.’s Telegraph reported. Users must register the numbers of their mobile phones that they want to use with the service, the report said.
 Some critics, however, have accused Vodafone of attempting to expand and improve its network coverage “on the cheap,” by piggybacking off an existing connection to improve signal strength in blackspots, according to the Telegraph.
But the use of femtocell technology as a whole appears to be on the uptick. A recent reported indicated that femtocells will likely dominate mobile markets for indoor cell coverage. As MobilityTechzone reported, the global annual femtocell semiconductor revenue will approach $400 million and equipment unit sales will approach 15 million units by 2013.
Yet the economic downturn is temporarily having an impact on the widespread adoption of the technology. Another report from ABI Research found that the sluggish pace of femtocell sales and acceptance is due to the current global economic crunch scenario. However, sales should pick up by 2010, MobilityTechzone said.
Vodafone made headlines earlier today with the company’s announcement that Vodafone Turkey has partnered with PerSay Ltd., a biometric speech verification service provider, to launch its so-called "Voice Identification Service." The technology uses voice biometrics, or “voice prints,” to identify callers for customer support. Voice biometrics, like a fingerprint or iris scan, offers a viable way to identify an individual because each person’s voice is authentic based on various components.

Amy Tierney is a Web editor for MobilityTechzone, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney

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