Hands up who's ever heard of a femtocell? No - didn't think so. That's likely to change - at least in Japan
- if Softbank 's new trial of the technology for extending phone coverage succeeds.

The operator of the third-largest phone network in Japan is testing femtocells in several areas of the country on several fronts. The main task for the router-sized boxes will be to tie fixed lines more closely to subscribers' mobile phones.

One phone to rule them all

This fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) will see seamless switching between normal landlines and mobile networks on a single handset. The concept isn't new, but the use of femtocells allows Softbank to bring internet connections, and thus VoIP, into the mix too, thus finding the cheapest route for each call.

More significantly, FMC effectively eliminates the mobile phone coverage blackspots common to many buildings, thus ensuring we can all be reached all the time.