LTE's frequent gotcha has been indoor coverage: as it often relies on high frequency ranges outside of the US, the signal can drop off quickly at home or in the mall. There have been LTE femtocells before to fill in the gaps, but NTT DoCoMo claims to have the first mini cell site that would cover our needs much more thoroughly. The Japanese carrier's new base station run simultaneous 112.Mbps LTE and 14.4Mbps HSDPA (sorry, no HSUPA upload speeds) on the 2GHz band to keep 3G data and voice working side-by-side with 4G, piping both through a wired broadband connection; there's no need to sacrifice the basics or legacy support just for a better LTE signal. NTT DoCoMo plans to sell the dual-mode femtocell to local homeowners, offices and stores in December. Sadly, there's no immediate word of plans for femtocells that support networks abroad, although the technology's existence gives us hope that we'll see it spread to other providers -- and that black holes in cellular coverage will be distant memories.
DOCOMO Develops World's First Small-cell Base Station for 3G and LTE
TOKYO, JAPAN, November 16, 2012 --- NTT DOCOMO, INC. announced today that it has developed the world's first dual-mode small-cell base station, or femtocell, supporting 3G (W-CDMA) and LTE simultaneously for improved service coverage in indoor locations such as offices, shops and homes. The dual-mode femtocell will be commercially launched from December.
DOCOMO's new femtocell, which weighs only 0.7 kg and measures just 18.5cm by 17.5 cm by 4.5 cm (H x W x T), provides 3G/LTE service coverage in a range of up to several tens of meters, depending on actual conditions. Its plug-and-play function automatically configures itself to the surrounding radio environment, enabling users to quickly enjoy wider, higher-quality and more cost-effective coverage simply by connecting the femtocell to a broadband fixed line.
DOCOMO has been marketing 3G femtocells for improved indoor coverage since 2007. With the new dual-mode 3G/LTE femtocell, DOCOMO looks forward to providing enhanced indoor environments for voice and data mobile communication via its FOMA™ 3G and Xi™ (read "Crossy") LTE services.