Maybe with femtocell technology, Iíll finally get an iPhone

By 2013, Smartphones will double their share of all cellphones to about 20 percent, reports the In-Stat research group. I might be among them if AT&T ever beefs up its wireless network in my neck of the woods. I do want an iPhone, but if the phone part doesn’t work for me, I’ll stick with my iPod touch.

Of course, one answer might be a femtocell. AT&T is working on this technology that could, potentially alleviate the dead zone problem for myself and others. A femtocell is a small cellular base station. The small boxes beam low-power wireless signals to cell phones and relay signals back to the carrier through the subscriber’s high-speed Internet connection. The femtocell incorporates the functionality of a typical base station but extends it to allow a simpler, self contained deployment. Basically, they’‘re miniature cellular towers for the home.

However, price and availability haven’t yet been set for the femtocell appliance, which AT&T calls the 3G MicroCell. In the US, both Sprint and Verizon Wireless have already begun selling femtocells that provide a local extension voice and data service, with Sprint charging $99 for its Samsung-built Airave box (first introduced in limited testing in the third quarter of 2007, and nationwide last October) and then charging a $4.99 monthly fee. Verizon charges $249 for its box, but doesn’t charge any additional monthly fees. Of course, the last thing I need is ANOTHER fee atop the AT&T/iPhone pricey data plan.

As for smartphones overall, In-Stat says that smartphone growth this year will be strong globally, but even stronger in the US market.

“Strong demand is being driven by device manufacturers leveraging open OS device to re-invent the mobile phone experience,” says Frank Dickson, vice president, Mobile Internet Group. “New and prospective smartphone buyers are drawn to new mobile applications, even though the median number of applications downloaded for all platforms, including the Apple iPhone, is relatively modest—below five applications per user for each platform.”

Recent research by In-Stat found the following (although I’m highly dubious of the third point):

° Smartphone security is still inadequate and is likely to be a source of problems for users and their employers, based on In-Stat’s consumer survey results.

° Almost one-third of survey respondents plan to obtain a smartphone the next time they upgrade their current phone.

° Smartphones with Linux OS (including Android) will see the highest growth and the second highest volume behind Symbian. Linux OS will outpace Windows Mobile, RIM and the iPhone operating system.


Dennis Sellers had covered the tech industry for almost 20 years. Currently, he's the editor and publisher of Macsimum News.

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