We've been hearing about femtocells for ages now, so it's about time someone started offering a commercial version of the domestic mobile phone basestation, and that someone is Japan's Softbank Mobile.

The nation's third-largest carrier will introduce NEC femtocells in January 2009, aiming to connect phones to the Network via users' home broadband connections.

Spreading the load

Not only will this solve the problem of poor mobile coverage, but it will also spread the load on the phone network and help prevent the busy signal Softbank customers know all too well.

In the past, previous owners of the Softbank network had acknowledged its weaknesses by offering simple femtocells to certain high-spending customers with poor domestic coverage, but this is set to be their first large-scale deployment.

Long-term view

With the so-called LTE (long-term evolution) set to replace 3G networks soon, femtocells (and the wider-ranging picocells) will clearly play a part in next-generation wireless coverage.

The new technology will ensure consistent coverage and help provide the bandwidth promised by the fourth generation of mobile phones.