Las Vegas - AT&T Wireless in mid-April plans to expand availability of its first residential femtocell, which is designed to improve in-home cellular coverage and reduce traffic on the carrier's wireless network, AT&T announced here at CTIA Wireless 2010.
The $149.99 AT&T 3G
, made in collaboration with Cisco, operates like a miniature cellular base station, routing cellphone calls and data sessions over the Internet via a home's broadband modem. It's promoted as the only femtocell to support both 3G data and voice services.
also offer femtocells, and T-Mobile offers a similar type of service.
The femtocell has been available since September for trials in select markets.
Through an on-line account, purchasers enable up to 10 cellphone numbers to access the femtocell, and up to four cellphones will be able to make calls simultaneously through the device.
Minutes used over the femtocell count against a user's regular cellphone plan, but for $19.99 a month, AT&T lets individual or family-plan customers make unlimited calls through a 3G MicroCell without using up their wireless voice-plan minutes.
Consumers who select 3G MicroCell calling plans are eligible for a $100 mail-in-rebate to reduce the femtocell's price to $49.99. If they also buy AT&T residential DSL or U-verse 1.5MB or higher residential-broadband service, the purchaser is eligible for another $50 via mail-in-rebate to reduce the femtocell's price to free.
Consumers self-install and self-activate the femtocell. Channels of distribution weren't disclosed.