Article – French language / Langue Française
The French have taken another step of advantage with their competitive Internet-service market. This time it’s Free who have provided a minimal-cost femtocell to their Freebox Révolution subscribers.
What is a femtocell? This is effectively a cellular-telephony base station in a small box that can provide cellular-telephony and data coverage in a premises. These boxes typically use a broadband connection as their backhaul to the service provider and are typically used to “fill in gaps” for mobile coverage in a subscriber’s home. The devices typically sold to a residential user typically provide “selected-device” coverage, namely for the devices owned by the customer’s household.
Most of the other French operators like Bouygues Télécom have offered femtocells but at a significant extra cost. On the other hand, Free are offering the femtocell to existing Freebox Révolution subscribers for a delivery charge of EUR€10 but will be offering it as part of the equipment bundle for newer subscriptions. This is something that I see as pushing the price very low for a service like this and, like what Free had done with Internet services and mobile telephony in France, could lead to others pushing the price down for a femtocell service or including it as part of an “n-box” triple-play deal.
These will support up to 4 phones but I do see a limitation also with any femtocell product that is integrated in a modem-router. This is where you can’t relocate the femtocell device to wherever the better coverage is really needed such as to work around a “radio shadow” affecting mobile telephony.
This may be part of a trend to make cellular phones work effectively like cordless phones and work on “fixed-line” tariff charts at home but use mobile tariff charts when “out and about”. This is more important with all of the “n-box” triple-play services where the telephony component is described as being with “appels illimité” where calls from the fixed telephone to France and a lot of other destinations come part of the deal.
It is another example of what the highly-competitive French telecommunications market is all about.