The end of the landline?

Well, OK, landlines are almost gone already, but their demise took another big step closer with AT&T’s testing of a $150 3G femtocell.

If femtocells haven’t played a big role in your life so far, let me explain, because they probably will do in the future. These are little cellphone base stations that you plug into your broadband network and, hey presto, give you mobile coverage in your home or office. Your phone can use them in just the same way as it would use a traditional cellphone tower, and the calls get routed over the broadband to the mobile service provider. Goodbye DECT.

I live about a mile from the centre of the UK’s high-tech hub, Cambridge, and still get pretty patchy coverage in my house from most of the major providers. It’s a disgrace, but soon devices like these will allow us to fix the phone companies’ failings. At our own cost, of course, but that’s better than not being able to make calls at all.

Anyone trialling them in the UK?

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Vodafone are trialling them in the UK, but have been experiencing technical difficulties :

I have to say, I think this is the biggest joke on the consumers I’ve seen in a while.

AT&T has a crap network, so they make you pay $150 to fill their holes (on top of the high fees they already charge per month). Then they use the bandwidth that you pay for from your internet provider to send the data, and they still charge you for the minutes. In fact, AT&T can even use your bandwidth while they make money on the guy next door for his cell minutes as he uses your femtocell to connect. Honestly, if the market falls for this, AT&T will be laughing all the way to the bank. I think it’s pretty disgraceful though.

If they want to use my internet connection to expand their network, the least they can do is not have it count towards my allotted minutes. It wouldn’t hurt to credit my account in some way for any time other people are using my cell either.

One word: Skype.

So let me get this straight…AT&T wants me to pay for hardware and minutes so that I can continue using my cellphone’s shoddy signal when sitting directly in front of my broadband enabled computer?! If you already have a broadband connection, use a VOIP client like Skype. Only a total IDIOT would buy this solution.

    Ah, but suppose you’re in an office, or a cafe, or anywhere that people might want to call you using your mobile number but there isn’t any coverage?

    Or you have a holiday home in a mountainous area.

    And I wonder if you can take the station with you when you travel, to avoid roaming charges?

    There are many places where I might like to make or receive calls but am not in front of a PC…

    I can use a Skype client on my iPhone, but there’s still the number issue. In the States, I guess I could use Google Voice, but not in other parts of the world.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

It’d be nice if my laptop could behave as a femtocell

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