Sprint is looking to follow their own lead with femtocell technology by being the first U.S. carrier to offer a true 3G femtocell later this year. Sprint was the first carrier to offer a 2G femtocell, the Samsung Airave. Light Reading’s Unstrung is reporting that Sprint alerted them to their pending 3G femtocell plans. Sprint is hoping to pre-empt AT&T, who has also announced 3G femtocell plans for 2009.
Carriers are looking to femtocells to improve in home coverage for 3G wireless services. They’re looking to ‘knock out two birds with one stone.’ Providing better in-home coverage offloads traffic from cell towers and already choked backhaul circuits from those towers. Secondly, better in home coverage may encourage subscribers to cut the wireline cord for voice, and maybe even for data as well, conceivably improving ARPU. All this being said, femtocells are an unproven model, with no early indication of considerable consumer adoption. They may prove to be hard sell, especially if the current business model prevails and consumers balk at paying carriers to offload wireless traffic off existing infrastructure.