Of the Operator, By the Operator, FOR THE OPERATOR
El Reg, I don't think I will see your articles in the same light again. Opinions can be anything, but dammit the facts have to be right! As an engineer who does work with WiFi and 3G radios, this article is so hopeless flawed, it's woeful.
I don't think Mr Ray fully understands the technical aspects of mobile vs wireless communication and voice vs data calls and seem to club all of them together.
Fact 1: WLAN consumes less power than 3G. A quick google check Mr Ray should have done. http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=3036&p=3 Also, arguably by design, the latency on a 3G is more.
Fact 2: Consumer grade internet based services should not be used for emergency services. Relying on a internet connection for that is a bad idea, as Skype happily warns you about.
Fact 3: This is a big advantage for the operator, as their biggest fear is that users will eventually switch to VoIP services on their mobiles, making all their minutes and contracts moot. They want you to stick to GSM voice calls, and 3G/4G for your data and this is a cheap way of keeping themselves relevant.
3G uses a lot more power than your home Wifi. To put in perspective, 3G is around 150 mW, WiFi is 30 mW! Power will be dropped for femtocells making them interference prone too.
Other than the isolated cases of no coverage, for the consumer use case, there is only one useful feature. The femtocell should be able to *perfectly* switch you from GSM/3G to WiFi, with some help from your phone. For eg if you are on a VOICE call the femtocell knows both the backend connection to the operator as well as the WiFi connection and can do the perfect seamless switch. Personally i wouldn't pay £160 for that.
I can see businesses using this, with bulk minute deals from the operator for all the employees, and a £160 box to provide perfect coverage in the office, with maybe some phone extension routing too.
For me as a consumer, it's either a free box, or one *FRICKING* good plan to go with the £160.
Paris, coz she likes all the coverage she can get..