Verizon Wireless plans to enter the femtocell market next year, joining Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile as U.S. carriers that hope to use the technology to boost cell phone coverage and capacity in homes and offices. A modem-size femtocell device is currently under review at the Federal Communications Commission.
Femtocell devices are micro cell towers used in homes and small businesses to improve the quality of cellular telephone calls and to also allow users to make calls over a broadband connection. Sprint Nextel began deploying its Airave femtocells, manufactured by Samsung, in 2007. T-Mobile is also using femtocell technology to enhance its wireless network coverage.
"We are looking at femtocell technology and will soon be performing user tests," a Verizon Wireless spokesperson told Unstrung. "We could well have a product on the market early next year, but we have made no public announcements about that yet."
Connected through a broadband service such as DSL and cable modems, femtocell devices typically support two to five mobile phones in a residence. ABI Research predicts 103 million femtocell access points will be in service by 2013.