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What is a Femtocell?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2016
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A femtocell is an access point base station for cellular phone service that is often used inside office buildings and other sorts of structures where cellular service has traditionally not been available. A femtocell is valued for its ability to produce better call quality. However, the femtocell units have yet to catch on in most locations.

A femtocell cellular base station usually supports between two and five cellular phones and provides access by routing calls through a DSL network. Using the Internet for calls can also reduce the amount of money spent on cellular service as well, because it is not using a larger network. Therefore, there may be some cost savings for those who use a femtocell solution for their telecommunications needs.

In order for femtocell service to become a viable option for many consumers, a number of issues still must need to be addressed. These issues address quality, security and cost, and a number of other, relatively minor issues. Femtocell research has come a long way to try to address these, but they have delayed a mass market acceptance of the technology.

The first issue needing attention deals with security. While femtocell units may make access convenient from a number of cellular phones, they could also make it easier to intercept data being passed over the network. This could take the form of voice communication or data communication, such as if a credit card payment is being made by cell phone.

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Another issue that needs to be addressed is the switching between femtocell access and regular cell tower access. Phones may try to switch between the two access methods while in the middle of calls, leading to dropped calls, dead moments or other types of interference. It may take a phone designed for femtocell service in order to truly correct this issue.

The third issue that must be addressed is the cost of the systems. Initially the femtocell base units are expected to be priced at a level higher than many consumers may be willing to pay, especially given how affordable traditional cell service has become. Therefore, until the unit prices for the base systems begin to decline, femtocell service may be an option only for some businesses and private consumers who are not overly worried about cost.

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