announcement last week of an in-home femtocell for connecting carriers' phones directly to its service, tons of questions remain -- including most of the questions we had when we first heard of the idea. Let's recap those questions and where we stand with each of them, shall we?
- Are these guys licensing spectrum from the gub'mint, sublicensing it from carriers, or just going rogue? Going rogue. Historically, this usually ends in an FCC-mandated shutdown -- and since both carriers and the CTIA will undoubtedly be throwing a fit that some company is stealing pricey spectrum for its own purposes, we're sure the pressure on the government to act will be quite high.
- Are any carriers in on this, and if so, why? Nope, none. The company says that "if they were smart they would take [it] on as a partner, because all [it] could do is enhance the value they create for their customer," but presently, MagicJack's all alone.
- If carriers aren't involved, why would they establish roaming deals that would allow carrier-branded phones and SIMs to roam on MagicJack's rogue airwaves? As far as we can tell, they aren't on any roaming deals.
- If they're not working on roaming deals, the femtocells will need to spoof a carrier ID. Furthermore, TDMA femtocells are virtually impossible to design and install for technical reasons, which means these would have to be 3G. So MagicJack's going to offer a UMTS femtocell? It appears to be a plain-Jane GSM femtocell, which is technically interesting considering what we've heard in the past about effectively making a TDMA unit that plays nice with the surrounding network. Considering everything else we know, though, it probably doesn't play nice -- and without a roaming deal in place, they'll need to spoof. That's going to rile up both carriers and the GSMA.
- Do you get to keep your phone number when you roam on the MagicFemtocell, and if so, how? For incoming calls, probably not, unless you forward to the MagicJack number.