Posts Tagged ‘femtocell’

The Answer Is Here! Solving Your Property’s Cellular Coverage Issues

April 12, 2013

Ericsson reported in 2012 that from the third quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2011, mobile data transmission increased by 600 percent. Projections by Cisco seem to indicate that the trend will continue, especially as more video is delivered over the internet.

Indoor cellular coverage is becoming increasingly more important- literally by the day. The Pew Research Center reports that smartphone ownership has increased dramatically over the course of 2011-2012, from 35% to 46% of US adults, totaling a 31% increase in less than one year. Add to this the research conducted by Ericsson reported in 2012, showing a 600% increase in mobile data transmissions between the third quarter of 2009 and fourth quarter of 2011 alone, and it becomes undeniably evident that we are knee deep in the wireless revolution. In fact, 80% of multifamily residents now use their mobile phones as their primary phone, as the land line slowly recedes into the night of technologies past. The disappearance of the corded phone is being solidified by new business models introduced by money hungry cell phone companies; these giants are privy to the fact that data usage far outweighs voice communications, and have incented consumers to do away with land lines, by offering unlimited talk time, while adding (not-so-unlimited) data usage fees.


The Pew Research Center reports that smartphone ownership increased from 35 percent of U.S. adults in 2011 to more than 46 percent of U.S. adults in 2012, a 31 percent increase in less than one year.

All of these changes, quite rapid changes mind you, are creating unintended consequences for many multifamily building owners and residents alike. As the building industry shifts focus towards energy conservation and more sustainable building practices it has become evident that many of the new building materials are particular resistant to cellular service penetration. As you can imagine, this is posing a huge problem for building owners and residents, especially as people become increasingly reliant on wireless technologies. If residents don’t have cellular service inside their homes, how will they make calls to friends and family? More importantly, how will they call 911?? These questions are not to be ignored.

Over 20 times a week someone from the multifamily industry is contacting Spot On Networks for suggestions on how to deal with this difficult, time-consuming, and potentially very costly issue. At Spot On Networks we have dedicated an enormous amount of time to helping building owners combat their cellular dilemmas, and are happy to say, we have just the solution for you.

The right answer can vary from property to property, dependent on the exact circumstances, budget, and level of convenience necessary for residents. The first solution is the DAS System. DAS stands for Distributed Antenna System, and can be quite costly to implement, coupled with extensive installation. Spot On has configured a solution to not only eliminate poor cellular coverage, but to offset the cost of installing an extravagant DAS System: CellBOOST. CellBOOST typically costs about 1/5 of a DAS System, AND provides property wide WiFi.  CellBOOST boosts cellular signal within a building by strategically placing a number of bidirectional amplifiers within the building, and a donor antennae on the roof which receives the cellular service from outdoors. CellBOOST is non-carrier specific, and is Passpoint 2.0 ready for the up and coming technologies.

The second possible solution would be to use existing WiFi applications. If WiFi is available at a property, residents can use mobile VoIP applications, such as Skype as an alternative phone service to make all of their calls, including calls to emergency services- however the location of said caller is not as visible as otherwise. For texting, there is an app called WhatsApp, which enables texts to be sent via Wi-Fi.

Lastly, the lonely Femtocell. The Femtocell is a small, low-power cellular base station designed for in home use. Although each carrier dubs the device something different, all versions are similar operationally: Plug in an internet cable, and use cell service from a single carrier (hence the “lonely”) in an individual apartment (for a fee, of course).

All of these solutions have their own pros and cons, however, when we take a look at the future, it becomes clear that the more effective solution for the long term would be along the lines of CellBOOST. Within a few months, the WiFi Alliance and the Wireless Broadband Alliance will release a compatible set of protocols and procedures that make WiFi networks complementary to cell carrier networks. ImageThe service, called Hotspot 2.0, uses the WiFi Alliance’s Passpoint 2.0 certification procedure for product certification to promote secure, seamless roaming between cell services and WiFi networks. (Read more here.) The first Hotspot 2.0 solution is expected to be introduced during 2013. Some access points are already Passpoint 2.0 certified, such as those deployed by Spot On Networks, used in CellBOOST. It is imperative to take a look at your property’s cellular coverage issues with an eye on the future- the DAS System will not hold up to the Hotspot 2.0, and neither will Femtocell. With all of these solutions available, cellular coverage issues within a building are soon to be a thing of the past (much like the beloved land line…), however, the important thing is choosing the right solution for your needs, and one that will stand the test of time.


AT&T femtocell service is included in new data usage limits

June 23, 2010

This is just mind boggling to me:

We wrote about the AT&T femtocell awhile back.  AT&T’s femtocell, the “Microcell”, is a mini-tower that can allow up to 10 AT&T phones to get 3G signal (four at once) – the devices covers 5000 sq. ft.   The femtocell comes at a one-time cost of $150 dollars and for $20/ month you can recieve unlimited calling over the femtocell.  Some were assuming that usage over the femtocell would not be included in the newly imposed data usage caps that have begun by AT&T and other cell carriers.  However, that is not the case.  Data usage over the femtocell WILL count against data caps.

In a DSL article, AT&T spokesman, Seth Bloom, speaks to AT&T preference of Wi-Fi for offloading data:

3G MicroCell is primarily intended to enhance the voice call quality experience in your home. While it can carry mobile data traffic, that’s not the primary solution it provides. WiFi is the optimal solution for home mobile data use. We encourage people to take advantage of Wi-Fi capabilities – that’s why all of our smartphones include WiFi radios, and usage on WiFi doesn’t count against your mobile data usage bucket.

Wait.  Stop right there.  Let’s go back to how this all works.  The Microcell (AT&T’s femtocell) routes both calling and data over the same broadband connection that is used by Wi-Fi, so why would the user be charged not only for minutes usage but for data usage as well when the data is utilizing the customers already-paid-for broadband connection?  AT&T’s justification here makes absolutely no sense and is upsetting alot of people, which I am surprised that AT&T is willing to do after all of the frustration subscribers have experienced over the 3G network and the added anger that came with the announcements of Microcell pricing.
DSL reports on how “AT&T tries, fails to justify 3G cap-eating Microcell”.  We agree with DSL that most people would probably elect to use their Wi-Fi connection when in the home over using the Microcell, however, that really is not the point.  Quite simply, AT&T is squeezing every possible dollar out of the consumer and this is just to get service to be satisfactory.  And, as it is with the Microcell, you are routing calls over the broadband service that you are already paying for.  So, in addition to being charged for the equipment ($150) and being charged a $20 “unlimited” calling fee (which does not include data) you are in essence being re-charged for your broadband (in some instances by a company which does not even supply your broadband service).  It really is ludicrious when you think about it.  We also must remember that the Microcell is a piece of hardware that benefits the cell carrier – you are doing them a favor by having it.  DSL said it well:
Consider these are users shelling out for a home broadband connection, a wireless 3G and data connection, possibly an added landline connection, the upfront cost of hardware, and an additional $20 if they want unlimited voice that doesn’t eat away at their minutes. Just how much are we expecting the average consumer to pay per month for simple, regular-use voice and data connectivity?Either AT&T’s gunning to make an additional few million annually in revenue off of those incapable of differentiating between 3G and Wi-Fi, or they’re incapable of getting the Wi-Fi/3G femtocell billing straightened out and don’t want to admit it.

Read more about data caps over the Microcell from

Signaling traffic, not video, creates data gridlock over 3G network according to Fierce Wireless article

April 21, 2010

Image Courtesy

As staff writer, Lynnette Luna indicates in her article, “We have been bombarded with news during the past year that a tsunami of data traffic threatens to overwhelm 3G networks–and even 4G networks down the line.”  This is absolutely true.  It seems as though a major publication mentions  data gridlock over the 3G and (soon) 4G networks and possible solutions (such as Wi-Fi) at least once a week and cellular companies seem to be scrambling to come up with a solution (not to mention the masses of bloggers that address this issue everyday).  Many articles in the past have indicated that the largest contributor to the 3G problem comes from people streaming video on their Smartphones.  For example, a MacDailyNews article from December quotes AT&T Executive, Peter Svensson, as saying, “that the most high-bandwidth activity is video and audio streaming” and refers to “Wireless data hogs who jam the airwaves by watching video on their iPhones”.

According to Luna’s article, video mobile data traffic being responsible for 3 and 4G data gridlock, may not necessarily be the case.  Luna points to “Signaling Traffic” as the big contributor.  Basically signaling traffic is when your smartphone has to set up a “signaling path” when a request is made.  For example, if you are constantly checking Facebook, IMing, Tweeting, etc. your smartphone sets up a signaling path and then goes into standby to preserve battery – as soon as you go to send another message (which for many of us, may only be minutes or seconds later) a new signaling path needs to be set up by your smartphone.  Put even more simply: you are asking your smartphone to repeatedly coming out of idle to perform a task.  These constant requests made over 3G (signaling traffic) is, “outpacing actual mobile data traffic by 30 to 50 percent, if not higher”, Luna quotes Michael Thelander, CEO and founder of Signals Research, as saying.

The article also touts Wi-Fi as being the solution to offloading data gridlock that cellular companies, such as AT&T, are beginning to have no choice but to utilize.  Finally, Luna’s article also mentions the femtocell that cellular companies are beginning to offer to solve their poor indoor coverage issues, she mentions femtocells as part of the solution to the 3G data gridlock issue, however, I think that she was incorrect in bringing femtocells into the data gridlock issue, because, as one of the responders to her post, “Amit Shaked” stated, “it looks like Femtocells will more likely be used for voice-offloading solution (e.g. solving 3G coverage indoors) while Wi-Fi will most likely be used to offload large volumes of data traffic, like video and photo sharing.”  A following responder, “KK” went on to express many consumers dissatisfaction with the femtocell and referred to it as being, “the dumbest invention I have ever heard of…Femtocells serve zero purpose and they solve zero problems.”  As we have mentioned before, we have created the solution: Cell-Fi™.  Cell-Fi™, using your smartphone over the Spot On Wi-Fi network, does a few things.  First of all, you are able to offload data off 3G onto our Wi-Fi network.  In return, you are experience faster data transfer.  You are also about to use voice over Wi-Fi, eliminating dropped calls, poor signal and the need for a [pointless] femtocell.  Learn more about Cell-Fi™.  View Spot On Networks coverage area.

AT&T MicroCell – NYT refers to an “insulting” solution

April 8, 2010

As we reported not long ago, there is an element of ridiculousness to the AT&T “MicroCells”.  While the femtocell solution is available to help AT&T customers who are experiencing poor service over the 3G network, the solution does not come without a $130 dollar price tag (plus minute usage and the option of paying for another plan).   NYT writer,  Matt Richtel refers, in his article, to one consumer who who states that having to pay more to properly use the service that she already pays for as “insulting”.  The AT&T customer and iPhone user goes on to state in the NYT article:

“They want to find a new way to make money off me, versus actually servicing me for the money I pay already…they’re trying to find a way to profit from their weakness.”

We feel the same way.  Next week will be putting up some videos that will show you the Cell-Fi™ solution on your smartphone.  Cell-Fi™ (using your smartphone over Wi-Fi) will save you money, save you minutes and allow you to forgo the 3G network entirely for better call clarity and faster data transfer.  It’s The Wi-Fi Revolution™!

Learn more about Cell-Fi™ or call us for more information: 877-768-6687.
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