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Update: Vodafone Will Offer 3G Femtocell Free

Customers paying £60 will get Vodafone’s coverage-boosting 3G femtocell free, while others will pay £5 a month

On by Peter Judge 0

Vodafone’s 3G femtocell, announced this morning, will be free to any Vodafone customer paying £60 a month, and cost £5 per month for those on most other tariffs.

The device improves indoor coverage by sending calls over the user’s broadband connection instead of using the Vodafone cellular network, and will be offered to any customer that wants one – including those with 3G dongles – and especially to those complaining of poor reception, a Vodafone executive told eWEEK Europe.

New subscriptions for a typical lower-end Sony Ericsson will cost £15 a month, including a Vodafone Access Gateway, while an HTC Magic user, might pay £30 a month for a Gateway and 3000 minutes, said Lee McDougall, the senior manager at Vodafone who announced the new product at the Femtocell World Summit in London.

Even pay-as-you-go users can get in on the action, by paying £160 up front, said McDougall, filling our information which was somewhat sketchy in the intial announcement, which took delegates at the Summit by surprise.

The femto can be added to any existing or new subscription, and support multiple phones, and does not include its own SIM card, so does not create a new subscription, he explained. The device has been tested with multiple ISPs’ broadband lines, and no compatibility issues have been uncovered, he said.

He does not expect any ISPs to object to carrying Vodafone’s traffic: “It’s mostly voice, and a small amount of data traffic,” he said. “It’s a very small amount of traffic, not like the iPlayer.”

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In tests with more than 1000 users, the issue of voice coverage at home emerged as the main reason people would use the femtocell, he said, so Vodafone is marketing it as a means to improve voice coverage rather than data speeds.

However, the device can be used for HSDPA data, and should make a marked improvement to the performance of 3G dongles used at home – and it will be available to those subscribers: “For £5 you can add it to a dongle subscription,” said McDougal.

Peter Judge

Author: Peter Judge

Editor, TechWeekEurope
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