The number of wireless mobile phone subscribers in the United States topped 180.5 million last year, up 21.7 million from the year before.
Within that number, a growing percentage of users are turning to their mobile phones at home and at work as a replacement for desktop phones.
With those customers in mind, Spotwave Wireless Inc. on Monday announced it is bringing its carrier-approved SpotCell adaptive coverage system to the small office and home market.
The company expects that by 2009, more than half of phone users in the United States will use their mobile phone as their primary phone.
Currently, said Bill Carlin, CEO of Spotwave Wireless, about 40 percent of calls made from home are on a cell phone.
"We find there is a really large market out there of people who either work from home full-time or work from one but not as a full-time location. They work from home for a considerable time of the work week," said Carlin.
"Businesses are running more and more distributed IT and communications strategies where they are tethering their work forces by laptops and broadband connections, may BlackBerry for e-mail and other sorts of data, and then the cell phone becomes a primary sort of voice line," he added.
Carriers change signal patterns during the course of the day, and as subscribers come on and off the network, capacity and coverage can shift dramatically.
"As the capacity loads on, the coverage actually declines," said Carlin.
The 5-year-old company focuses on providing coverage in the space the enterprise needs to cover and, at the same time, being what Carlin calls "a perfect reflection of the carriers network."
Indoor repeaters, he says, can introduce signal interference that wreaks havoc on carrier equipment.
"Through software we look at the inbound signal from the base station and we continuously monitor it," said Carlin.
SpotCell Home uses a two-unit architecture. One unit, the donor unit, is about the size of a laptop computer. It is mounted outdoors or at a high point indoors, such as an attic, facing the nearest cell site.
The second unit, the coverage unit, is about the size of a smoke detector and provides the indoor coverage. One, or several, are placed throughout the building, connected by coax to the donor unit.
"Your cell phone thinks its connected to the carriers base station, but the signal is actually passing transparently through our system," said Carlin.
In addition to providing indoor coverage, the system reduces the amount of power used by the mobile devices.
Because the signal is local, said Carlin, "it can back off to a much lower power level—a tremendous benefit for battery life."
The unit is basically plug-and-play and requires no ongoing IT support.
A SpotCell viewer can be called up on a monitor, allowing an IT staff to view statistics such as which frequency a caller is on, power levels in the units and which carriers theyre connected to.
SpotCell Home is priced at $895. The enterprise edition is about $3,000.
"There are cheaper solutions out there, but they are not carrier-approved," said Carlin.
"This is a product youll be able to deploy without getting into trouble with your carrier."