Tag: femtocells

The Femtocell is to be part of the competitive French Internet-service market

Article – French language / Langue Française

Freebox Révolution : Free intègre les boîtiers Femtocell – DegroupNews.com

My Comments

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution now to come with a femtocell

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.

France’s Free Mobile service to have free femtocells


Iliad aims to boost Free Mobile service with free femtocells – FierceWireless:Europe

My Comments

In France, Illiad’s “Free” telecommunications brand is to use femtocells as a way of increasing its effective coverage. These are devices that provide  mobile telephony coverage within small premises, typically one’s house, but use the Internet service as the backbone to the mobile telephone network.

SFR offers a similar service for their “Neufbox Evolution” customers but this requires that they pay EUR99 per month for this service. Instead Free are offering it as a complimentary service to their “Freebox Revolution” customers. Both of the triple-play platforms will have the functionality integrated in their “n-boxes” which combine a network-Internet “edge” device (router) along with a VoIP analogue telephony adaptor.

For France, this will be seen as relevant for the mobile carriers in that country as they face an uphill battle against a strong NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) culture when it comes to deploying mobile-phone towers. This is more exacerbated as the junk science and fears concerning the side-effects of electromagnetic radiation are held as gospel in some French communities.

Issues that can affect current femto implementations

A limitation I have observed with these “femto” implementations is that they will be designed to serve up to four or five handsets, which may be enough for a household. But for a country that has the cafes and brasseries at its heart, there needs to be reference designs for femtocells that can work in a similar manner to a Wi-Fi hotspot service. Here, the device could support around 10 to 15 concurrent users. The service could support multiple-carrier traffic and provide the host carrier or even the business’s owner with a service bounty for customer’s voice minutes that pass through the femtocell.

Similarly, there can be the issue of assuring coverage across the property for a femtocell setup. It may be of concern with larger properties in areas of poor mobile coverage or properties that have radio obstacles like thick brick walls for example. This could be rectified by establishing a mechanism for “multi-femto” arrangements where the same backbone can serve two or more femtocells with proper seamless handover.

Other technologies

Of course there are other technology setups that may work instead of the femtocell. The classic example may be the use of Wi-Fi technology with EAP-SIM authentication and VoIP call-provisioning systems to provide “indoor” mobile-call service. This will typically require the phone to have integrated Wi-Fi functionality which most smartphones do have; but support seamless handover, quality-of-service and accounting between cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

Another issue that will affect this setup is current-generation Wi-Fi transceivers that are integrated in smartphones is energy use when in full activity. Here this will affect the mobile phone’s battery runtime and typically cause the phone to require charging more frequently. Most likely this will be rectified in the upcoming generations of Wi-Fi transceivers available for these devices.


The French femtocell services offered by Free and SFR are worth examining as far as private femtocell and “quad-play” (TV, telephone, mobile telephone and Internet) services go. Here, it would be worth examining the technology and its relevance for mobile-telephony service goes especially where the NIMBY culture thrives; and identify the real problems where it can run into when using it to augment these service in the public and private realms.