Having been the first major European operator to commercially launch a femtocell service, or Access Gateway in Vodafone marketing speak, the device remain largely absent from any promotion and uptake remains very low. The device has been available for over a month across all of Vodafone's UK sales divisions, but one London store is reported to have sold only 20 units in the last three weeks.
In an effort to boost sales Vodafone have been offering potential users a discount on the launch price of £160, or a £30 down payment with £10 per month subscription on a 10 month contract. Consumers contacting a Vodafone call centre have been offered a Vodafone femtocell for a £100 one-off payment or £5 per month over two years.
Despite this lacklustre early sales performance, the Vodafone femtocell has received high marks from industry and consumer gadget review writers. Setting up the Access Gateway was considered ‘incredibly simple', call quality was excellent, handover to the macro network worked well and internet browsing throughput was measured at just over 3Mbits.
However, while a breakdown study conducted by EJL Wireless Research praised the Vodafone femtocell for its simple design and high level of integration, the firm expressed concern over the disparate pricing that Vodafone has established between retail consumers and enterprise customers for this product in the UK. "The difference is roughly twice the price in local currency for enterprise customers," said founder and president, Earl Lum.
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