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Femtocells, not something to be embarrassed about

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Category: Business models, Femto cells


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While many operators that offer femtocells seem to think that imperfect network coverage is something to be embarrassed about and so keep femtocells hidden from full view, Vodafone is trumpeting its Sure Signal service and moving it centre stage.

As part of a new UK marketing campaign http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/sectors/telecoms-and-it/vodafone-launches-campaign-in-bid-to-increase-mobile-internet-use/3031468.articleVodafone recently announced that it will be encouraging its customers to use the mobile internet more often and get more out of their smartphones (and presumably download more apps).  Central to this is a big push for Sure Signal, its residential femtocell offering. The strapline reads, ““Another small thing that can mean the world”.

What’s interesting about this is how the femtocell has progressed from filling a hole to being seen as pillar in growing mobile broadband usage. Having been field proven, the femtocell has been promoted up the ranks.

It is refreshing that Vodafone is not embarrassed to say why you would need a femtocell. A web page explains the issues, in simple terms, and is not buried deep within the site. It sits right next to the product marketing literature. (http://www.vodafone.co.uk/personal/price-plans/network-and-coverage/sure-signal/blackspots-explained/index.htm). As Rupert Baines’ blog post (http://www.wilson-street.com/2011/10/are-operators-doing-enough-to-drive-femtocell-adoption-i-think-not/) recently pointed out, operators should be proud of their femtocell offerings, because femtocell customers have a net promoter score to shame consumer goods brands. If customers are not unhappy to be using a femtocell, why should an operator be embarrassed to provide one?

And in other femtocell news from Vodafone, the UK operator is seeking 12 communities to take part-in rural metrocell trials. (http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/mobile-it/2011/11/03/vodafone-to-use-femtocells-to-boost-rural-3g-40094347/) The goal is to improve mobile coverage in villages that have poor reception by hanging open-access femtos from BT Openreach’s phone poles (which have power and are at the right height), and backhauling traffic over DSL. Future trials will feature other backhaul techniques such as microwave.

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