Telecom Timeout

Jun 12 2009   1:17AM GMT

Sprint’s femtocell wholesale move – hoping for wireless for all takers

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

For an interesting spin on who sells services to whom, Sprint will begin wholesaling femtocell solutions to wireless resale partners that include mobile virtual network operators (MNVOs), as well as its wireline brethren, which means landline telecom service providers and particularly cable companies that want to offer quadruple-play services and provide wireless coverage inside customer’s homes.

Eschewing unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum, Sprint’s Samsung-created Airave femtocell platform is CDMA-based for a higher-quality offering, the company said. Sprint was the first U.S. operator to test the femtocell technology and rolled out its Airave service almost a year ago. Early reviews of Airave last year, however, indicated that the femto service was expensive and poor quality. Maybe a year made a difference.

Now in the famous words of Charles Dickens, who will buy? Not the big providers that already have in-house wireless divisions, but maybe regional and small telcos and cable operators that want to slow down landline losses (and that includes almost everybody).

Sprint Wholesale President Jim Patterson said in a statement that femtocell is a great way to get into the wireless market. Now Sprint needs to announce some takers to drive the point home. It would also be good to hear a word on pricing, which Sprint also skipped.

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