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Sprint intros femtocells

The CDMA gang seem to have stolen a march on the rest of the mobile industry, with US cellco Sprint commercially launching a CDMA-based femtocell in Denver and Indianapolis recently.

The Airave works with any Sprint phone and plugs into any broadband internet connection to provide enhanced in home wireless coverage plus unlimited calling by sending traffic over the web.

The femtocell itself is available for $49.99 and subscription to the service is priced at $15 per month for individuals and $30 per month for families, in addition to the customer’s regular wireless voice plan.

Sprint plans to make the Airave available later this year to customers in the remainder of Denver and Indianapolis, along with Nashville, and to customers nationwide in 2008.

But Dean Bubley over at Disruptive Analysis reminds us that given the open nature of the offering, rival carriers might not be too happy to carry the voice traffic of their competitor. “I’ve got to wonder whether any fixed operators/ISPs will try & encourage it to pay for premium QoS for its femto traffic on ‘their’ broadband infrastructure,” commented Bubley. “Presumably it’ll be pretty easy to spot as it’ll be heading to a central network aggregation node. I can’t imagine Verizon will be too chuffed at helping backhaul Sprint’s CDMA traffic.”

This is also something T-Mobile USA is also doing with its UMA service. By giving T-Mobile USA subscribers wifi hubs to install at home, T-Mobile is hitching a lift on DSL and cable broadband deployment as calls made over a competitor’s fixed line network would generate Call Detail Records (CDRs) on T-Mobile’s own network.

In fact, this is pretty much what the whole net neutrality argument is about and interestingly, it has also emerged that Google, the biggest freeloader of them all, according to the networks, is looking to build its own trans-Pacific cable.

The web giant is thought to be leading a consortium to get a submarine fat pipe put down under the Pacific. Such a move would allow the carrier to get access to fibre on a cost basis, rather than buying up traffic from other players.

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