AT&T told AppleInsider that it is expanding its 3G MicroCell femtocell deployment into its second test market in Raleigh, N.C., today, but that further progress in deploying the femtocell solution may be delayed by other issues, including E911 requirements.
AT&T has requested clarification on the E911 laws to make sure that any new products such as the femtocell meet the government requirements. Existing laws require AT&T's cellular call towers to track the position of 911 callers either by using tower triangulation or the phone's internal GPS, enabling the network to report the caller's current position to the "Public Safety Answering Point" where 911 operators handle calls. Femtocells either have the GPS receiver incorporated into them or the provider locks them into a location.
Last week AT&T's revealed three price packages being offered to AT&T MicroCell femtocell customers in the company's trial area of Charlotte, N.C. Customers who have AT&T wireless service can pay an extra $20 per month for the MicroCell product. Customers who have both AT&T wireless and another AT&T service, such as landline phone service or Internet, can pay $10 per month for the device. Triple-play customers (those with wireless, landline and Internet) can receive the femtocell for free.
According to an AT&T spokesman, these prices are for the trial offering and final pricing of the commercial product may be different.
UPDATE: Seth Bloom, spokesman for AT&T told FierceWireless that the company is not seeing clarification from the FCC regarding the 3G MicroCell deployment in general nor is it seeking clarification regarding e911 issues as it relates to femtocells. The 3G Microcell complies with all FCC e911 requirements and the trials in Charlotte and Raleigh are going smoothly.
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