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While AT&T announced its plans for nationwide femtocell launch in 2010 yesterday, it was slightly disappointing to see lack of detail on which markets will go live in mid-April. Apart from the trial markets of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, San Diego and Las Vegas, it might be useful to know where else AT&T expects to deploy femtocells next.



The reason is that there are plenty of Iphone customers out there who are really hurting and would like to see a femtocell service in their area. This includes capacity crunch hotspots like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and other big cities. Although no specific Iphone bundles for the AT&T Microcell have been announced, AT&T hasn’t ruled them out. It’s likely that such bundles might become available for specific target markets like San Francisco (one of the rumored next markets) or New York on an ad-hoc basis.



While the Verizon ‘There’s a Map for That’ controversy is still fresh in people's minds, one would think that femtocells would allow AT&T to efficiently counter the Verizon onslaught, and do it on the cheap. However, AT&T plans to play it slow, not make too much of a noise about the 3G Microcell. One probable reason could be that AT&T is afraid that some sections of the market might react negatively with consumers having to pay $150 from their own pocket to have AT&T match Verizon’s 3G coverage. However this is less likely to be the case.



If one looks at Vodafone’s Sure Signal big-budget media campaign in the UK it only came six months after its initial launch date. Vodafone only pulled the trigger after they were completely sure that their operations, marketing and sales were completely aligned. Operators need time to sort out critical back-end integration and provisioning issues before they can really go mass-market with femtocells. It might just be that AT&T changes their tactic in 6-9 months time, really going ballistic with a media campaign. There are already suggestions that AT&T is looking for a second supplier apart from Cisco to ramp up their femto rollout.



Apart from that there are some other key differentiators in AT&Ts femtocell rollout, some of which haven't been really been brought out in their press release. Studying those differentiators, it probably suggests that they have carefully thought through their femtocell strategy and could have a bigger plan up their sleeve.



For more on what those differentiators are, there is a separate Analyst Insight which digs deeper into understanding the implications of the AT&T femto rollout. This insight is available to subscribers of ABI Research’s Femtocell Service.





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