AT&T will be following Sprint and Verizon Wireless later this year in trying out femtocells, tiny cell phone basestations that provide improved coverage in homes and offices.
In an email comment to wireless industry site Unstrung, an AT&T spokeswoman confirmed that the company is currently doing lab testing, and plans to launch a femtocell trial later this year.
What’s a Femtocell?
Femtocells are in effect tiny cellular access points which plug into a broadband Internet connection. They provide both voice and high-speed data coverage through the Internet connection to normal mobile phones and smartphones, allowing users to have coverage in any supported area without relying on the main cellular network, and without the use of bulky or expensive antennas and amplifiers.
They are used in areas where reception from regular cell towers is weak, such as a rural location or inside some large buildings.
Sprint was the first U.S. carrier to offer femtocells in the form of its Airave service, and Verizon Wireless is reportedly close to offering a similar option.