The Cellular Business’s Next Big Thing

Print Email

There are only so many people who can own a cellphone. In Europe and the US, that number is no longer growing quickly. America’s three largest cellular carriers, Sprint (S), AT&T (T), and Verizon Wireless have a combined 180 million customers.

So, where do the companies turn for new revenue? The answer appears to be getting more people to make calls from within their homes. The wired phone could become a thing of the past in many residences.

The trouble with home calling is that the signal inside buildings is often weak.

Enter femtocell technology. The new products allow each home to have the equivalent of a large phone tower for the home, according to The Wall Street Journal. New-York-based analyst group ABI Research, some 70 million femtocells will be installed in homes around the world, serving 150 million users by 2012. The price for the devices could get as low as $100.

But, the product is too little, too late. With inexpensive VoIP being delivered by cable companies like Comcast (CMCSA), millions of telecom landline customers have already left to move to the less expensive alternative. By 2012, the number could be in the ten of millions of customers.

Better cellphone reception is not going to help.

Douglas A. McIntyre