AT&T adds another femtocell test market

AT&T Mobility added Las Vegas as another test market for its 3G femtocell product, but the carrier stayed mum on a possible nationwide launch of the offering.

ATT femtocell microcellThe company, which prefers to call the device a "Microcell," also said it has had trials running in parts of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and in San Diego for "a while," according to a company spokeswoman who spoke to Light Reading. The spokeswoman declined to discuss the carrier's possible expansion of the test.

In December, AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega said the carrier was not quite ready to deploy femtocells. He explained, in an interview with BusinessWeek, that AT&T wanted to offload more cellular traffic to WiFi hotspots and femtocells. However, on the question of femtocells specifically, de la Vega conceded that AT&T was not yet ready for a full-scale deployment or to put a commercial price on the offering, explaining that femtocells are not yet simple enough for consumers to install and use. If subscribers have to call customer support, that could erase the financial advantage the femtocells bring, he said.

AT&T first  began a limited femtocell test in September, but noted at the time the prices could be altered as part of a possible wider deployment.

Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel have long been offering femtocells as a way for subscribers to improve voice calling coverage in their homes. The devices essentially act as mini cellular base stations, routing traffic through a subscriber's existing home Internet connection.

For more:
- see this Light Reading article

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