3G FemtoCell

image We’ve talked a lot here about the femtocell. It’s a small cellular base station which connects to your cell phone service provider’s network via your home’s broadband connection. Through it, you have a strong signal via the broadband connection, rather than having to rely on a weak over the air signal.

However, femtocells, including my Verizon Wireless Network Extender, don’t support 3G. So when you use your cellphone for data rather than voice, you’re traveling in the slow lane (2G).

This may change soon. Slashgear reports that Sprint’s second generation femtocell will support 3G and will be available before the end of this year.

But what about owners of first generation femtocells (like me) who also want to travel the 3G data fast lane?

I’m not positive, but I doubt the first generation femtocells, like mine, can be upgraded to support 3G. The reason is I believe the 2G limitation is a hardware, not firmware issue. Verizon has been known to “cripple” devices via firmware. One example is preventing you from using GPS with other programs, so you have to use its (expensive) VZW Navigator. But I don’t think this is one of those cases. 

The alternative is to upgrade. With Verizon, I believe I can upgrade after 1 year. I purchased my femtocell on the very first day it was available, January 25, 2009. Verizon hasn’t even announced a 3G femtocell, and likely it will trail behind Sprint and AT&T, whose offerings probably won’t be available until the very end of this year. So perhaps I may not have to wait long if at all to upgrade.

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