Having been the first European company to offer a commercial femtocell over six months ago, Vodafone has relaunched the device with a dramatic price cut from £160 down to £50. It has also triggered a marketing campaign aimed at educating the consumer as to the benefits and, importantly, renamed the unit from being a ‘Vodafone Home Gateway' to ‘Sure Signal'.
The company has given no reason for this renewed bout of femtocell enthusiasm--having been criticised for its near total lack of marketing its Home Gateway brand. However, observers point to Vodafone's very recent launch of the iPhone and its desire to offload a proportion of the huge amounts of data traffic this device can generate onto the femtocell.
Vodafone is also said to have managed to convert its back office system to allow for automatic provisioning of the femtocell, and has received assurances from its supplier, Sagem/Alcatel-Lucent, that manufacturing output has been considerably ramped up this quarter.
While Vodafone customers can also opt to pay £5 a month for a year to get the femtocell, there is speculation that other celcos will need to follow this move of subsidising the unit or even offering it for free to boost uptake and gain the benefits of data offload.
For more on this story:
Femtocells: Vodafone sets the pace with European launch
T-Mobile to test femtocell interop - for 6 months
Femtocells: T-Mobile and Orange remain sceptical
Femtocells: SIG formed to push for open apps