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New "Femtocell" Base Station Could Make Roaming Cheaper

A UK-based company called Ubiquisys has unveiled a network base station that is so small that it can be moved around as easily as a smartphone.

The "attocell" only needs an internet connection and a computer with a USB port to function. Its broadcasting power is so low that you will be able to use it in many countries with stringent rules like America without having to apply for a licence.

The "attocell" is opposite to Mi-Fi devices in that they turn the data to standard cellular signals and not the other way round.

Vodafone has pioneered Femtocells in the UK and sells them as under the name "sure signal". Ubiquisys says that the device will analyse the IP address and radio environment to determine which country it is in and adjust its power output accordingly so that it always transmits below the licenced level.

The device is compatible with most smartphones on the market and Ubiquisys says that it is already in talks with a number of mobile phone operators in the UK.

Not surprisingly though, the onus to check about the legality of such a gadget would rest on the consumer rather than on the operator. Ubiquisys has yet to say when the Attocell would go on sale and for what price.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.