AT&T UMTS Femtocell national launch by end of 2009

AT&T's femtocell system should launch nationally by the end of the year, according to one of the carrier's senior executives.  Gordon Mansfield, AT&T's executive director for radio access network delivery, has revealed that the UMTS femtocell – which has been in trials with around 200 users for the past few months – will initially take on more test customers before the complete roll-out.

The hardware will be a standalone device, rather than a residential-gateway style multifunction unit, and is expected to be supplied by Cisco.  The company also provided the femtocells for AT&T's trial.  However, that will just be the first step of AT&T's plan:

"Certainly we're looking at integrated femtocells.  Some people think that integration is putting a femto into a residential gateway, and that's one aspect.  We're looking at other things in the home [and asking]: How can I leverage all the elements in the home? There's a lot of research and investigation in these areas and nothing definitive on what we're going to do." Gordon Mansfield, AT&T

AT&T's femtocell will work in a similar way to Verizon and Sprint's existing models, which are already on sale in the US.  The compact box connects to a user's broadband, and re-routes calls and data over that connection rather than via the carrier's wireless connection. 

[via Greg Hughes]