Monday, November 01, 2010

Wi-Fi Playing a More Crucial Role in US Mobile Carrier Growth

…and femtocells don’t appear to be.

I was reading Roger Cheng’s latest piece covering AT&T’s use Wi-Fi. The company announced they supported 106.9 million Wi-Fi connections in Q2 2010. It’s certainly impressive.

But was struck me more was the utter lack of discussion about femtocells. Recall that just a year or two ago, AT&T’s femtocell launch was eagerly anticipated by the company, along with the mobile (and femtocell) industry.

Yet skip ahead, and AT&T continues to laud its use of Wi-Fi with nary a word on its femtocell deployment. It's like they have fallen to the side of the road.

Perhaps it’s reflected in a release the Femto Forum put out the other day. The Forum announced that there were “more femtocells deployed that macrocells” in the US.

At first blush, that sound like good news… until the details come out.

According to the announcement, there are ‘conservatively’ 350,000 femtocells deployed by Sprint, Verizon and AT&T in the US, versus 256,000 macro cells. But with the ‘big three’ serving about 230 million subscribers, 350k femtocells deployed isn’t very impressive.

Even converting to households, it isn’t much. I found another study which says 75.8m homes in the US have broadband, a pre-requisite for a femtocell, so we're at 0.4% penetration. (versus 62% for Wi-Fi).

I know, femtocells are just getting started, and there’s plenty of room for growth. But at the end of the day, ATT is touting it’s Wi-Fi connection numbers, not it’s femtocell deployments.

1 comment:


so many people are unaware of it and how it works.

i've been suffering without a UMA ANDROID for 2 years now.

tomorrow the suffering is over.

i'm going to hop on my motorcycle and take the 75 mile ride to a t-mobile store and buy a motorola DEFY.

then i'm going to rush home and log on to my wifi router and call people.