Before I start I would like to clarify that this is my blog and that what I write here are not announcements unless I say so. Having said this I would like to share with you what I have been thinking a lot about Femtocells, especially now that I am in the Hamptons where coverage is so poor and need one. What are Femtocells? Femtocells are like Foneras that operate with 3G or any other mobile technology. As most of you know a Fonera is a Fon WiFi router that is connected to the internet and sends out two WiFi signals a private one that is WPA encrypted, bandwidth protected and gives most of the bandwidth to the Fonero (the member of the Fon movement who shares some of his WiFi with people who share with him/her) and the other one is public, it´s protected by username and password and is available for others who are nearby. Now the same concept can be used for Femtofoneros. For this Fon needs to have an agreement say with Vodafone, AT&T Wireless, Orange, or others. In my home in Madrid for example I had poor coverage and Vodafone installed a Femto cell in my roof. So I got coverage and so did people who are near my home. In my farm in Sagaponack where I am now there´s poor coverage from Verizon, T Mobile and AT&T. I did research on this and the reason why there´s poor coverage is that people in the Hamptons think that GSM antennas are both harmful and ugly. But this problem could very easily be solved if Foneros or Femtofoneros would volunteer to have Femto cells connected to their cable or ADSL networks and provide coverage for themselves and others in the area. In my view if cell phone companies were willing to give free cellular service to Femtofoneros they would solve their problem of coverage. Especially if Femto cells are not meshed but their signal sent into Cable or DSL networks as the biggest problem of mobile operators is bandwidth scarcity. Fon now has 450K people around the world registered as Foneros and around 200K with Foneras. While I don´t know how many cell phone antennas are there in the world my guess, is that there are probably around the same number of cell antennas as there are registered foneros in the world. While Fon has had problems transforming all registered Foneros into active foneros and some have disconnected the Fonera because they failed to connect others and see an immediate benefit I think this would be less likely if Foneras gave out both WiFi signal for devices such as Nintendo DS, PSPs and Sansa Connects and 3G signal for voice communications. At Fon we are researching extending the concept of Fon with WiFi to Fon with 3G and WiFi and I think that this may very well become standard for Fon in the future. Our investors at Google seem to agree as they invested $25 million yesterday in Ubiquisys.
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