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back to article Why would anyone run their own base station?

With Europe's first femtocell deployment due in two weeks, it's worth taking a moment to consider why you might want to spend your money on extending your operator's coverage, if not just from general goodwill. On Tuesday Vodafone announced that from 1 July UK punters will be able to buy their very own base station to extend …

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LJ
FAIL

No thanks

That's all well and good, as long as you don't use your home network to transfer data between the various machines you have; 802.11g or n is so much faster than 3G that it simply wouldn't be worth it.

Anyway, who mucks around with settings or changes IP addresses when they want to wander off with their laptop? Where DHCP is the norm, it's just a case of a couple of clicks to select an alternate connection, and that's only if their machine doesn't automatically shoose an alternate connection type when the active one fails (eg Ubuntu). Not exactly back-breaking labour, is it?

To summarise: it's a lot of money and some extra hassle so that you can slow down your home network in order to solve a problem that doesn't really exist for the overwhelming majority of the population.

Why? The best most people could hope for is that they never notice a difference.

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Bronze badge

And in rural areas?

I hope things have improved, since I used the tech 6 months ago, but data over 3G wasn't so wonderful. You might almost call Winterton a small town, but the cellphone coverage was quite variable, for data. A femtocell, and not having to switch how the laptop connects, is attractive, but can 3G networks in rural areas support the non-femtocell use?

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Pint

a fine idea.......

except there is no such thing as a unlimited data tarrif, they sell them, but they are not unlimited.

Pint, cause it's friday.

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FAIL

Seriously?

Both myself and my wife have unlimited Vodafone data traffis through our works, and I can say very easily that when we get home or at work we use the wireless links as they are faster. I wouldn't go swapping my WiFi for a GPRS even if they gave me the base station, its just too slow, why would I use that link and add to that by increasing the latancy by putting Vodafone in my broadband link?

The only reason I would agree, is to, as you suggest run a VPN tunnel from somewhere foreign.

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Wi-Fi is still power hungry compared to 3G?

My experience is the opposite, wifi draws far less power than 3G, what source suggested otherwise?

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FAIL

Garden Walled?

So, to give me the net on my phone I can get a picocell from Vodafone, which won't work unless I already have internet connectivity?

Ya

Good luck with that.

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FAIL

But....

......it still doesnt answer why I should pay £160.00 to improve 3G performance for my neighbours when I don't get my traffic priortised, make any money from it, get a discount on my bill from it or do the normal stuff I can do on a WIFI connection like browse NAS units or print to a wireless printer.

It is an already dead technology as it requires that you already have 1meg minimum and stump up some cash. If I had to use 3g it would be because I either can't get >2meg or I was out and about and this helps with neither.

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FAIL

Am I missing something here?

So the only benefit is power saving on your mobile phone? Which is at home... plugged into the charger.... for £160... let me get back to you on that.

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WTF?

I think i'm missing something!

The article refers to 'not paying for data twice'. I don't see how this can be avoided currently. Am i missing something?

Data charge 1: Broadband connection

Data charge 2: Mobile phone

Femto Cell connects to network through broadband connection. No matter what happens the data still has to travel down your broadband connection.

Why would I want to use 3G for internet access in my own home? It’s just not fast enough! I’ll use my laptop and Wi-Fi please… if it wasn’t so convenient, I’d still use Ethernet.

I'd have thought the biggest advantage of this is being able to get a mobile signal in your house.

I may soon find my self having to live in a house where i have zero coverage (cheers orange), but with 12 months left on my contract.

Also, if your going to stay with someone where you know you'll have trouble with signal, take the thing along and plug into their router.

It's a shame this article is making a case for the removal of Wi-Fi... if you had Wi-Fi enabled ones business people could take them on road trips. There have been many a time i've been in the backend of no where, in a hotel with Wi-Fi but no mobile signal.

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hmmm

"but with a femtocell we can have ubiquitous networking, and mobile phone coverage too, without having to muck about with settings or change IP addresses - which seems a reasonable thing on which to spend 160 quid"

I wouldn't pay £80 for ubiquitous networking and mobile phone coverage.

Is it really that hard to make a distinction between the work you do outside using your phone/laptop and the work you do inside using your computer? really?

Call my old fashioned but I keep work at work and it works just fine.

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Anonymous Coward

OK, so...

what about my wireless printer, Wii and Xbox?

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Megaphone

Coverage

Surely it would be easier just to use WiFi for the connection?

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Grenade

I'd almost be tempted...

...to try and masquerade a UK femtocell through a router-managed VPN back to Blighty, except for the fact that I have already set up a sipgate appliance at home, at both my parents' and my future in-laws' houses ... so most of my phone calls are either VoIP-VoIP (costing zilch) or local calls (also included in my call plan - therefore costing nothing extra.)

Sorry - was there an incentive buried in there, somewhere?

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But the home LAN has many advantages...

I quite like having a home LAN that is mostly secured from the outside world where I can share music around my devices and have my xbox talk with my pc talk with my laptop talk with my hifi without having to do weird negotiation with the outside world or having to VPN between them. Just saying.

Articles for the sake of articles is bad editorial. What is this, digg?

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Rubbish

"To which the answer is: to replace the Wi-Fi network you're already running."

What complete crap. Utterly bile. This product has *NOTHING* to do with data; does the author remember what a *phone* is?

The purpose of this technology is very simple - it appeals to people who don't get even coverage throughout their home. If you've got nice thick walls, and don't get coverage in certain rooms then this technology means that you can fix things so that when you go into the kitchen, or wherever, then you don't miss all your calls to voicemail. No more having to leave the phone on the windowsill to receive calls, no more sitting by the window because the sofa is out of coverage. Simple.

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Rob
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FAIL

Too many flaws

Far too many to make moving away from my WiFi router connected to my landline broadband. If T-Mobile wnet down this route you'd get a worse off surfing experience, by default using your latptop on their 3G means you go through their proxy which downgrades all images/graphics to a lower quality, for obvious reasons but not something I want experience on a continual basis.

The other overiding factor being I have a home network with 3/4 machines on it for a reason, so counts me out, I'm sure this might be a good option for a single Mac user, they'd be willing to pay the money twice over for less of an experience.

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Badgers

how does this work exactly?

They sell you a 3G micro-range transmitter which connects to what, your broadband, to transmit signal on? Or does it somehow connect to the nearest tower, gaining signal strength by using some means that can't be put in handsets? If the latter, why not? If the former, why?

Either way I guess it could be useful if it uses a licensed frequency as it will get rid of the interference. But bandwidth will be lousy - at best a tenth of wifi - so I can't see takeup for data purposes. After using wifi, my 3G modem seems pitifully slow.

and what is this "unlimited data tariff" of which you speak? Maybe if your'e on the £100 pcm packages.... I'm on PAYG...

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Better batteries needed...

"These days we tend to shut down our laptops when we're moving, but the next generation of devices will want to remain connected more continuously"

Not on current battery tech, we don't. Nor on any battery tech likely to come out in the next, say, 5 years, which is when this femto cell stuff is supposed to be happening.

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Paris Hilton

What you pay for.....

So, let me get this straight, you have broadband, a 3g data plan and you then add a femtocell.

All so you can avoid having to switch a connection when you leave the house with a laptop/netbook/phonethingymajig.

Oh, and other people may be using your femtocell, and thereby your broadband.......

Not an issue for me when I move to Sweden and have 100mb full duplex broadband, but I get a max 512k up in the UK atm, so that's only a couple of calls being routed before I seriously have issues doing anything with my connection.

So, does having my own femtocell mean my 3g data plan becomes unlimited when using said femtocell or do I still get the pathetic 5gb limit before I have to start hocking my soul to cover the 'reasonable' data charges once I go over that?

Though I have to admit, taking it to Sweden with me is sounding fairly attractive, as I already have a vpn server...... Hope the neighbours wont mind.

Paris, 'cos I'm pretty sure she doesn't mind using someone else's phat pipe......

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Coverage

How does this work for other networks? Would my 02 phone treat this cell as any other?

I don't agree with the article in terms of an end to WIFI, at least not in the short to medium term. My own priority is getting any kind of reception for voice and data out here in the sticks.

£160 is well worth the money in my case. I don't know about others.

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FAIL

More reason to use ECM's on unwanted AP's

And its more fun watching BT run about next door trying to work out why....

all they can get is <No-Fi> with the new install they are doing :)

REMEMBER KIDS JUST SAY NO!.... TO WiFi!!!!

Mines the one with.....

Tinfoil lineing with lots of little antenna' on the back radiating noise at 2.4-2.5

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iPhone

So glad somebody mentioned iPhone - I have the unlimited O2 Web and WiFi, tenner a month, I get a good O2 signal at home inside and - oddly enough - my WiFi is a bit patchy around the house (must be the lead-based paint I used last time I redecorated :-), so I can browse unlimited upstairs, downstairs, outside, and in Starbucks.

£160 quid is more than I pay in a year for the unlimited data. So thanks, but no thanks.

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Heart

I love my Femto

I have had a trial Femto unit for several months and would not part with it for all the tea in China.

Firstly something people havent mentioned is that the battery life on your mobile is much better with a femto in the house... Simply your phone doesnt keep hunting for new signals and tunes its power down to suit the femto.

Now Im at home I get crystal clear phone calls, and high speed data making the phone apps far more usable. In fact on both my N95 and iPhone data via Femto 3G is quicker than using wifi - and far more reliable as I walk from room to room. This isnt just a one liner, one of the reasons I have the unit is so I can test througput for both modes.

Someone here mentions why that other people could logon to your Femto and take your broadband - well its up to you whether you allow them on or not.

If you got a flat tariff plan I just dont see the reason why you wouldnt get one, they are amazing and compliment wifi rather than compete.

Cheers - Happy Femto User from Glos

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FAIL

Poor 3G in good broadband areas?

Right, phone on desk here, full 3G signal... at home full 3G... in fact almost anywhere I go 3G is pretty ubiquitous. The only exception is my mothers in a rural part of the country and that's so far from the phone exchange the broadband is even worse.

I guess this would be most use if instead of using broadband backhaul, it could take a Vodafone 3G dongle as it's internet connection..... oh wait.... I see what they did there.

Still, might be some use hung out of an upstairs window connected to a 3G router.

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Dead Vulture

160 quid

... there is no way of getting around the fact that this costs 160 quid for tenous benefits especially when you take out the ignorance of the reporter talking of "Unlimited" data packages... just where have you been for the last 5 years and why haven't you seen ALL the reg articles about exactly this issue.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Rubbish

If you use 3G for the laptop you have a max speed of 7.2Mbps.

If you use WiFi the Max Speed is over 100Mbps.

The WiFi is definitely free to your own LAN and no extra on Broadband. Can you say the same of 3G?

The latency of WiFi here is < 2ms. The minimum latency of 3G to your own broadband router is over 70ms

There is NO good reason to get one of these other than you have poor or no coverage on a 3G only device.

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Gold badge
FAIL

"making the world your hotspot"

Nope, I don't get it. Why would I want to take my nice, solid 8meg connection and then plug a box into it so I could connect to it using something that can currently get to somewhere a shade over 7meg, assuming the wind's in the right direction and the portents auger well?

Oh, and that 8meg connection has unlimited data use rather than "unlimited" data use.

Never mind that I might want to talk to something else on my own network, which runs at speeds somewhere considerably north of the wildest dreams of 3G.

I'm sure that some of these will get installed, in exactly the same way that I'm sure that there are sad beggars out there who reckon that the line "I've got a femtocell" is so likely to snap knicker elastic that it's worth 160 quid.

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Thumb Up

This is for voice!

I have a very poor Vodafone signal at home so using my phone for voice calls is very difficult. I'm on call once a month, this will mean that I won't have to leave my phone balanced on the windowsill and will actually be able to take calls and talk to lusers properly.

I'll be getting one.

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Anonymous Coward

Replacement for wifi?

Considering my O2-provided unlimited data plan says that I can't use the connection for streaming media, P2P or tethering, it's completely useless compared to wifi.

Last time I saw, their hideously expensive PC data packages also said you couldn't use streaming media or P2P.

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wires

"it appeals to people who don't get even coverage throughout their home."

I think you can get something else that lets you use the phone indoors, I can't remember, but I think they're called landlines and use wires.

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FAIL

Vodafone write that???

you may not have to pay twice for your data, but you will certainly have to pay once, once at vodafone's mobile data rate when the data is travelling over your own connection. I can't imagine anything more annoying.

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Megaphone

This is just what i need

Why do you most of you think it's for data? I will have one of these as soon as i can get one. Why? Because i live in the middle of nowhere, mobile coverage is poor on all the networks, but my Vodafone just about copes, i miss lots of calls because of the patchy coverage (therefore i miss potential business) but i do have a 5.5Mbps broadband connection. This femtocell will mean i dont miss any more incoming calls. That's why it is an excellent thing and i want one.

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Grenade

Andrew Hurdle

You may have tested them, but you're on the pay role. Bugger off!

"Firstly something people havent mentioned is that the battery life on your mobile is much better with a femto in the house"

Your in the house... who cares... plug it in!

"Now Im at home I get crystal clear phone calls, and high speed data making the phone apps far more usable."

Clear phone call's ill give you. That's the only bonus i see from these devices.

Phone apps??? turn on you PC/Mac/laptop/netbook

"In fact on both my N95 and iPhone data via Femto 3G is quicker than using wifi"

How is that when you rely on the very same source of data (broadband connection)? If your phone is accessing data faster on 3g than Wi-Fi, look for a different handset. Then stop being a tool and use a computer because just like the charging issue... YOUR AT HOME!

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Grenade

@Dave 142

"I think you can get something else that lets you use the phone indoors, I can't remember, but I think they're called landlines and use wires."

Yes genius well done. Provided you tell anyone planning on calling on your mobile to call back on the land line. Something I have to do just about every time. If you are lucky enough to have enough reception to get the call through.

I would happily pay £160 to get consistant quality calls.

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Thumb Up

I would have bought one of these

Before I left the UK last year, I was living in a flat that had dodgy Vodafone coverage. I had had a Vodafone phone since 1995, and was perfectly happy with the service I had. Unfortunately, the reception was unusable in my flat, so I switched to T-Mobile. And for those people (like Dave 142) who ask about landlines, I like to give me friends (and work colleagues for that matter) a single number on which to contact me. Because I give out that number, I know that any call to my landline is spam, so I leave the ringer off. All the landline got used for was broadband connectivity and phoning out for takeaways.

These days my landline has 1 extra use. My Skype number (which is the number I give to everyone still in the UK) calls both my mobile and my landline. So I only answer the landline if my mobile is ringing at the same time.

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FAIL

Slight problem

Emergency service location is based on IP address.

In my case the IP address is listed as assigned to a router in Fareham which is owned by my ISP and is a good 200 miles south of me so thats not gonna work is it.

WI-FI, 3G is rubbish for data transfer anyway so the only benefit would be phone coverage and I would be paying twice as I use a decent non mass market ISP that invests in its network, not like your <insert ISP name here> of this world that overtax their hardware and upstream connections and then introduce traffic management to cripple what customers can do with a connection they are paying a good amount of their hard earned for.

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Bullshit.

That's what that is.

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Law
FAIL

simples

Start letting people use their 3g signals more usefully over the existing infrastructure, like tethering to use your "unlimited data plan" without additional fees of £10 or more - also stop putting pressure on mobile app stores to not approve applications that use high bandwidths and we might get so used to using 3g that we will want it in the home.

Infact (and I'm looking at tmobile, orange and o2 here) stop treating us like money-secreting meat sacks - and we may just decide to start using your hardware in our homes to further your network coverage...

<dodgy_analogy>

Right now, it just feels like a bus company asking you to pay them to drive your own car on public roads - but only along their specified bus routes at the designated times.

</dodgy_analogy>

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@dave142

I have no coverage within a mile or so of my home. I do have a landline, but I might want to only give one phone number to people, so that they can get me anytime.

And I know I can do call forwarding, but that costs. I suppose the question is whether it will cost more than the ~£5 a month that Vodaphone are after for contract customers.

It would also be nice for me not to have to leave the house and drive for 5 minutes so that I can get on the network because I forgot to turn on the call forwarding before I got home...

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Silver badge

But still

I am supposed to pay twice for my internet, and have it heavily monitored. Plus mobile Internet is censored by many operators.

Mobile operators deserve to die, considering their business models.

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Terminator

EM exposure

Wonder when we'll start growing cauliflowers on our heads due to all the EM in the air. I don't think that day is too far off.

I think that there will be enough energy "in the air" to charge all my devices' batteries!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inductive_charging

I am sure someone somewhere has thought of this...

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Flame

Great advert for Vodaphone, but....

its not really ubiquitous if it relies on every indoor / underground building or rural area all having specialised equipment and an existing (non ubiquitous) broadband connection that uses - your words here - messy things like IP addresses (gasp!) AND private individuals and businesses alike will be paying twice for the pleasure.

Behave.

Effective and standards compliant transmission and receipt of data to and from a user is the network operator's problem and responsibility, not ours.

If Vodaphone are convinced that this is the way toward a seamless future network, then they should be picking up the tab.

Its yet another fragmented vendor-locked-in solution to a problem that is better addressed by the industry as a whole.

</rant>

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Grenade

Brilliant Idea

This sounds like a brilliant idea FOR VODAFONE !

They'll be able to claim better coverage to prospective customers and instead of having to spend money to get that coverage, they'll make money. £160 for every little bit of extra coverage and that's not counting the extra they'll save by not having to increase the infrastructure costs to carry the calls and data. The customers will be paying both Vodafone and their ISP for that.

Well done Vodafone for a stunningly good business proposition, for yourselves.

To anyone else who takes them up on this I hope it's because no carrier covers where you live at all or you're using it from another country via VPN to keep your calls routed through the UK; otherwise you're an idiot !

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FAIL

so let's get this straight

If I use my PAYG mobile to surf the internet via the femtocell will I still get charged ? If I make voice calls I'll still get charged ? Yes? Thought so. They can get stuffed.

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Dead Vulture

Someone get this author out of here

802.11g is faster, bridges directly to my home LAN (so I can use it for, oh, streaming media, etc.), and doesn't require an ongoing contract with a mobile provider.

I think I'll keep using the right tool for the job, thank you.

-d

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Silver badge
Thumb Down

Eh? What? When?

Is this a solution without a problem?

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WTF?

Wat, no phone jacks?

Why would anyone use a mobile phone at home when there's a perfectly good (read: dirt cheap) alternative sticking out of the wall? It seems like a hell of a lot better option than a mobile phone company providing poor service then charging customers extra to make it reliable.

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Anonymous Coward

Makes more sense in the LTE timeframe.

It makes much more sense to replace WiFi with LTE and LTE-Advanced (with multi-gigabit speeds).

These high speeds will make moving stuff around your house even faster than 802.11n

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Would be good here

I can't comment about U.K. conditions, but, I see plenty of use for these devices here in Australia.

For instance, my mobile phone has no connection in or around my home, in fact I have to travel 5 kms. before I pick up a connection. Consequently I don't give my mobile phone number to anyone as they have the annoying habit of calling it and expecting an answer.

Installing a base station at home will allow me to actually use what I pay for.

I do wonder however, if these femtocells will actually do anything without a back haul.

For instance, if I live in the back of beyond hundreds of kms. from any cell tower and have a femtocell, would it allow me and my hypothetical neighbour (conveniently within range) to speak to each other mobile phone to mobile phone without connecting to a service provider's network at all?

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Couldn't a smartphone do this?

Couldn't you use the modem in a smartphone (WM, Android, iPhone, that sort of thing) and some clever software to make it declare itself as a base-station? A modem's a modem, surely the phone end of the link could be tricked into appearing as a base station?

Your non-smartphone could connect to the smartphone which would establish a simple point-to-point link with it and dial out using VOIP to the intended recipient. No mobile phone charge as the network wouldn't be aware of the call and you could connect over WiFi, Bluetooth- even IR if you didn't mind some horrendous lag and custom software on the internet gateway device.

Also, isn't giving people physical access to the devices doing the security a really bad idea? Give it 5 years, the hacking community will display a device capable of decrypting mobile phone calls without all that tedious messing about with FPGAs...

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