Sprint have thrown down the gauntlet to AT&T over which US carrier can stage a full commercial release of a 3G femtocell first. According to Unstrung, Sprint’s VP of device and technology development Mathew Oommen has promised they will be first to launch a 3G femtocell this year, which will not only boost voice-call reception for Sprint handsets but also EVDO Rev.A coverage.
“Just like Sprint was the first with 2G, we’ll definitely be the first in the 3G space as well. We’re not talking about trials; we’re talking about full commercial service.” Mathew Oommen, Sprint
Oommen held off of revealing exactly when Sprint’s 3G femtocell would arrive, nor any specifics about service plans, hardware providers or price. Nonetheless, he’s confirmed that there will be more than one 3G femtocell on offer, as well as one more tailored to enterprise use, and that the devices will be part of Sprint’s open device initiative.
Femtocells create patches of localized cellular coverage by acting as mini base-stations, routing calls – and, in the case of 3G femtos, data – across the user’s broadband service. Sprint launched their 2G femtocell, the Samsung AIRAVE, back in September 2007; while the hardware and service were praised, the extra fees involved left many users cautious and reviewers disappointed. AT&T recently confirmed that they plan to release a 3G femtocell supporting HSDPA data by the end of 2009.