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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FAIL

Drivel

If there's a coherent argument anywhere in this article, I missed it. As long as I've got a wired router in my house already, why the **** would I want to involve Vodafone's switches (and tariffs) in my home network (internal and internet) ?

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Paris Hilton

Of the Operator, By the Operator, FOR THE OPERATOR

El Reg, I don't think I will see your articles in the same light again. Opinions can be anything, but dammit the facts have to be right! As an engineer who does work with WiFi and 3G radios, this article is so hopeless flawed, it's woeful.

I don't think Mr Ray fully understands the technical aspects of mobile vs wireless communication and voice vs data calls and seem to club all of them together.

Fact 1: WLAN consumes less power than 3G. A quick google check Mr Ray should have done. http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=3036&p=3 Also, arguably by design, the latency on a 3G is more.

Fact 2: Consumer grade internet based services should not be used for emergency services. Relying on a internet connection for that is a bad idea, as Skype happily warns you about.

Fact 3: This is a big advantage for the operator, as their biggest fear is that users will eventually switch to VoIP services on their mobiles, making all their minutes and contracts moot. They want you to stick to GSM voice calls, and 3G/4G for your data and this is a cheap way of keeping themselves relevant.

3G uses a lot more power than your home Wifi. To put in perspective, 3G is around 150 mW, WiFi is 30 mW! Power will be dropped for femtocells making them interference prone too.

Other than the isolated cases of no coverage, for the consumer use case, there is only one useful feature. The femtocell should be able to *perfectly* switch you from GSM/3G to WiFi, with some help from your phone. For eg if you are on a VOICE call the femtocell knows both the backend connection to the operator as well as the WiFi connection and can do the perfect seamless switch. Personally i wouldn't pay £160 for that.

I can see businesses using this, with bulk minute deals from the operator for all the employees, and a £160 box to provide perfect coverage in the office, with maybe some phone extension routing too.

For me as a consumer, it's either a free box, or one *FRICKING* good plan to go with the £160.

Paris, coz she likes all the coverage she can get..

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FAIL

Too Many Questions

This is of great benefit ... to Vodafone - they get their network expanded at your expense. And they need to ... 3G : Always on, Sometimes connected.

They want ubiquitous 3G and this is a cheap way to get it. Since the connection is over your broadband; can you prevent someone else using your cell ? Is the broadband call datastream interceptible by you? [i.e can you listen in or monitor it ?] Or will they be running an encrypted connection over your network and broadband ? Will their connection be dynamically allocated or do they take a fixed slice of your broadband ? What about when you want to download a lot of data, will they be gobbling up your connection? If your cell is very busy, will your ISP be throttling you back ?

The cellphone companies are storing all kinds of data on calls [dates, times, cells etc.] so any dodgy calls or data going via your cell may implicate you. [Police raid at 4.00 in the morning anyone?]

How many simultaneous calls will these things support ? [probably 1, 2 or 4] You won't have any priority, so youll be pretty annoyed that you are paying for this and the rest of your neighbourhood is benefitting and you can't get on!

Will there be a contract, and do you have to guarantee to have this for, say 3 years. If you are in the sticks and the power is iffy, is there battery back up for this or is it no mains = no signal. Will you have to agree to have your broadband modem on all the time?

This is only scratching the surface; there will be lots of other questions but I'll have to do some more thinking [and it's Saturday and it's too hot so I can't be bothered right now! ]

I'm done here. I'll get my jacket - it's the one with the worn brown leather patches on the elbows.

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Go

I'm Tempted....

I live in Dubai, my router is always connected over VPN to my company office in the UK. Helps me get around the Internet Blocks here in Dubai. Its expensive to call my family and freinds in the UK and for them to call me.

One 30 minute phone call to a Landline in the UK using my Vodafone UK mobile cost me 40 quid.

I'm tempted to get one of these and enjoy my 750 free minutes and unlimited texts, and let my freinds and family call me when ever the want... Would save me a fortune at times.

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Megaphone

A few truthes......

Lets dispell some myths and nip some rumours in the bud -

The femtocell connects to Vodafone using an IPSec tunnel so nobody will be able to intercept and listen in to your conversations over the femtocell. Also you configure it to accept connections from up to 32 numbers, any 4 of which can use the device at the same time. If someone isn't listed in your router they can't use it so nobody unauthorised will be chewing up any bandwidth.

You can't use it outside the UK as it registers the location, devices in the USA use GPS - quite how they are doing it in the UK I don't know but there will be some technical wizardry stopping it's use all over the world.

Lastly it's not meant to replace wi-fi, the frequency 3G runs at isn't the best at penetrating buildings......hence why it's been dreamed up. It's available as part of a contract so you don't have to shell out 160 notes for it, you can get one with your upgrade. Calls will be charged as you are still using the Vodafone core network and all the equipment like the authentication servers, SGSN's, Media Gateways, to name a few.

I guess I will come back and correct some more myths and misconceptions another time, it's too warm to do it now.

A battery back up won't be much use, if your power is out then your broadband router won't have any power either so no connection to the internet equals no femtocell.

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Boffin

FUD

For those that haven't read else where:

1) as others have noted, it provides short range in-building (yours) coverage - good for areas that don't already have it

2) only registered handsets will be able to connect to your femtocell; thus it doesn't change the /public/ coverage of the network

3) it required DSL backhaul that you provide - if you really do live in the sticks and are stll using 56kbps dialup, this isn't for you

4) yes, if you have wifi already, then your work laptop is probably going to work much better on a direct wifi connection instead of tunelling 3G over wifi. I really don't think this is goal here (which the article seems to suggest)

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This is about voice, not data

Forget the bit about replacing WiFi. If you're a Voda UK customer and you get 5 bars on 3G throughout your house, think yourself lucky, save £160 and move on.

If like most of us, you have to speak near a window when you arrive home, and your cell phone battery gets knackered hunting for a signal, then a femtocell may be for you.

And the more you use your cellphone instead of a landline, the more Voda will love you.

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Anonymous Coward

unlimited ripoff

Apart from 3G replacing WiFi only being possible in a Vodafone marketing guy's delusion, 500MB a month is NOT unlimited.

To put that in perspective that is a mere 10mins access a month at full 3G speed, or 40 seconds of WiFi!!!

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