Free Newsletter

Vodafone revs up UK femtocell program

By CAROLINE GABRIEL

Published: 19 January, 2010

READ MORE: UK | Vodafone | Femtocell

Last June, Vodafone UK became the first European operator to go live with femtocells, though the indoor base stations remained somewhat shadowy in the carrier's portfolio. Now it is bringing them out into the marketing daylight with a rebranding and a price cut.

The device, originally called the Vodafone Access Gateway, is now more snappily named the Sure Signal. This reflects the initial focus of the cellco's marketing of the product, the promise of improved indoor 3G coverage and signal quality. Mobile operators are looking for many benefits from their femtocell investments - some consumer driven, such as new apps and homezone tariffs; some geared to their own economics, such as offload of traffic from the macro networks to devices backhauled by the user' own broadband lines.


But in the first stage, as successfully demonstrated by the US carriers, the most readily understood, and urgently needed, benefit is indoor penetration. In October, a survey of UK mobile users by ADC found that 27.6% of respondents believed their work had suffered because of weak cellphone reception indoors at home or the office.

The Sure Signal will now be promoted and sold more aggressively, said one Vodafone insider, and the pricing has been made keener to match. It will now cost just £50 ($81), down from £160. Consumers can also opt to pay £5 a month for a year to get the femtocell, if they are on contracts of more than £25 a month; or for two years if their deals are worth less than that. One of the dilemmas for carriers is whether they can charge for femtocells, or need to offer them 100% subsidized in order to boost uptake and gain the benefits of data offload. So far Vodafone is pursuing something of a middle road, despite complaints from some consumers that they should not have to pay to compensate for an operator's poor coverage.

Various reasons can be deduced for the timing of the stepped-up push behind the femtocell. Vodafone has managed to convert its back office system to allow for automatic provisioning of the devices - seen by other early adopters, such as AT&T, as an essential condition for volume adoption. Its supplier Sagem/Alcatel-Lucent is understood to have ramped up its manufacturing output considerably this quarter. And of course, Vodafone UK will launch the iPhone this week - the handset has famously put strain on the network of its previously exclusive UK carrier, O2, and femtocells will be one way to ensure data-centric smartphone customers get a high quality experience, indoors at least.

"No other network in the UK can ensure a great mobile phone signal in the home, because the Sure Signal is unique to Vodafone", said the operator's UK CEO Guy Laurence. "Customers tell us it is life changing."

The Sure Signal offers download speeds of at least 1Mbps, connects to any broadband line, and can be registered with up to 32 different mobile phones and used by up to four handsets simultaneously (provided they are all Vodafone customers of course).

Related Stories

Share

  • email story Email
  • print story Print
  • digit digit
  • facebook facebook
  • Twitter Twitter
  • Linked-in Linked-In
  • Comments (0)

COMMENTS

Add Comment
No comments yet. Be the first to add a comment!
MARKET PLACE

    BYOD: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    An in-depth insight into the rise of BYOD policies within the enterprise and analysis of the impact the trend will have on IT departments,...

    Voice Command, Control and Search on Mobile Phones: Market Analysis & Forecasts

    This report provides a comprehensive insight into the growing importance of voice command, control and search on handsets, analysing...

    Data Centre Network Equipment: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    This report provides a global assessment of the data centre network equipment market. Besides assessing the key market trends, sub-markets...

    HetNet Market Summary & Forecasts: Macro Cells, Small Cells & Wi-Fi Offload

    Carriers are struggling to cope with the explosion of data traffic on their networks, and the additional deployment of LTE and legacy...

    Over-the-Top Communications: Threats & Opportunities for Mobile Operators

    This report examines the implications of widespread adoption of mobile over-the-top IP communications for mobile operators, handset...

    Portable Gaming Consoles: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    This report provides a global assessment of the PGC market. In addition to assessing the key market drivers, market barriers, vendor...
WHITE PAPERS

    Satellite Phones: Will Dual Mode Help the Phoenix Rise from the Ashes?

    Satellite phones have followed an arduous path since their much-hyped launch more than a decade ago. The hype was followed by an e...

    Mobile Widget Platform Market Analysis: Understanding the Business Case and ROI

    This white paper presents an analysis of the mobile widget platform market, as well as metrics supporting a mobile carrier?s busin...

POST COMMENT

You must be a registered user to post a comment. or
Username *
Email *
Comment *