T-Mobile: No femtocell in works

logo_tmobileT-Mobile USA has no plans to offer a femtocell and will continue to focus on its dual-mode WiFi fixed mobile convergence strategyat least that’s what we’re hearing from T-Mobile. A story from earlier this week reported that T-Mobile was launching a 3G femtocell later this year, joining the other three nationwide operators on the femto train. But a T-Mobile spokeswoman told Connected Planet that although the operator is always weighing alternate in-home coverage solutions, it has not made any decision to pursue femtocells and certainly has no plans to sell one in 2011.

T-Mobile is actually in an interesting position when it comes to femtocells. By choosing WiFi as its home coverage extension technology, it at first appeared to have missed out on the big femto boom. But the in-home base stations haven’t exactly been a resounding success in the U.S. None of the Big 3 report numbers on how many femtocells are in service. In fact, none of those operators have said much at all about femtos since they’ve launched their initial programs.

Studies from ABI Research and the Femto Forum show there is latent demand for femtocells in the U.S.though awareness of the technology is still low. Part of the issue is marketing, which the operators have done little of, but another big factor is pricing. Operators are either charging high prices for femtocells or monthly service plans to use themsometimes bothwhich discourages many customers from using them. What’s more, there have been numerous reports of operators simply giving femtocells to their most valuable customers to dissuade them from fleeing to their competitors.

From T-Mobile’s perspective, femtocell might not be worth the bother, at least until the fundamental business model behind them changes (Here’s our take on how that business model needs to evolve).

In comparison, T-Mobile’s actually got a pretty good thing going with WiFi, which targets the same customer segments as femtocells with a lot less hassle over equipment and provisioning. That wasn’t true a few years ago, but we weren’t in the midst of a smartphone revolution a few years ago. The customers most likely to shell out the investment or monthly service plan for a femtocell are the same customers who are willing to pay more on their monthly bills, and those customers are more likely than not to have smartphones. Those smartphones, almost without exception have WiFi, and customers who own smartphones are more likely than most to have home WiFi networks. Since T-Mobile has moved away from its strategy of shipping dedicated WiFi routers with its FMC software to tapping into off-the-shelf WiFi routers, provisioning FMC services has become all the more easier (at least easier than explaining to customers what a femtocell is, shipping it and installing it).

I’m not saying T-Mobile can ignore femtocells forever, but I don’t imagine, the way things stand now, that it is in any hurry to offer them.

2 Responses to “T-Mobile: No femtocell in works”

  1. Richard says:

    Kevin, are you aware of this on going event……. there is currently a stay to discuss a settlement that was agreed upon by both sides.

    Calypso Wireless, Inc. Files Patent Infringement Suit Against T-Mobile USA, Inc.

    HOUSTON, Tex., November 14, 2008 – Calypso Wireless, Inc. (CLYW.PK), a researcher, designer, marketer and licensor of Fixed Mobile Convergence (“FMC”) technology, today announced that it has filed a patent infringement complaint (Case 2:08-cv-00441) against T-Mobile USA, Inc. (“T-Mobile”) the mobile communications operating subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) in The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division in Marshall, Texas.
    Calypso owns U.S. Patent 6,680,923 (‘923 Patent) and the proprietary ASNAP™ (Automatic Switching of Network Access Points) technology, which helps carriers achieve more efficient allocation of resources by freeing more wide area cellular spectrum space for voice, video and data, and increasing overall bandwidth available to other users. Calypso’s proprietary switching technology is the convergence of Cellular and WiFi networks, which allows a user to seamlessly switch and connect from either a Cellular Network or a Wireless Local Area Network Access Point (WLAN), seamlessly without the user noticing the change.
    In the lawsuit, Calypso seeks to obtain past and future damages, attorney’s fees, and an injunction prohibiting T-Mobile from continuing to sell or make use of the inventions embodied in the ‘923 Patent. The case relates primarily to T-Mobile’s Hotspot@Home™ product, which allows subscribers to seamlessly switch from the GSM network to local WiFi “hotspots.”
    Richard Pattin, President of Calypso states, “This is a significant turning point for Calypso, as we believe it will open the doors for hundreds of millions of dollars in licensing opportunities.”
    \\\\\\\\"Calypso has invested significantly in the discovery, development and continued advancement of FMC,\\\\\\\\" said Richard Pattin, President of Calypso. \\\\\\\\"When others make use of our patented technology, we will continue to take aggressive action including the enforcement of our legal rights.”
    Representing Calypso is the Williams Kherkher Law Firm, with its principal offices in Houston, Texas. The Firm focuses in mass torts, patent infringement litigation, and a wide variety of high-profile cases throughout the United States. Williams Kherkher is perhaps best known for representing the State of Texas against several large tobacco companies, resulting in the largest settlement in history.
    “We are proud to have the opportunity to represent Calypso in this case, and look forward to presenting our case,” stated Armistead “Armi” Easterby, trial lawyer and head of the firm’s patent section.

  2. Tim says:

    Hush! Noone seems to want to discuss poor old Calypso and their patented technology that TMobile has been clearly using for YEARS. Its very close to the time where they MUST pay up and settle. There is huge money at stake here and Calypso stands to be the investment of a lifetime….

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