The first time I heard the word femtocell all I could think of were the diagrams of human cells and cellular walls we studied in my eighth grade science class. Actually, femtocells have nothing to do with biology at all. They’re used to amplify cell phone signals and are scaled for home and office locations rather than the technology that’s used in larger spaces like airports.
You’re about to start hearing a lot more about femtocells and here’s why. Wireless carriers would prefer to keep customers on their networks rather than have them switch to Wi-Fi with a dual-mode phone when cell reception gets spotty. We’re still probably a ways off from seeing much of femtocells in the US, but that doesn’t stop the hype machine from rolling.
Plus, there’s plenty of news to follow outside the US. Among other industry announcements (see Om Malik’s coverage), Motorola put out a release earlier this week about a femtocell demonstration with SOFTBANK MOBILE in Japan. The demo showed how to deploy femtocell technology in homes by connecting the Motorola Horizon 3G-i-residential solution to an existing broadband connection.
Motorola is no newcomer to femtocells either. A Motorola UK engineering team invented femtocells back in 2002. At least that’s what the Wikipedia entry says. I’ll have to dig into that one a bit more.