AT&T is testing a technology that can improve the signal available to mobile phones in subscribers' homes.
John Stankey, chief executive of AT&T's Operations division, said that the outfit is testing so-called "femtocells" in employees' homes, and is looking at a broader, city-sized test with customers next year.
Femtocells are small boxes that beam low-power wireless signals to mobile phones and relay signals back to the carrier through the subscriber's high-speed Internet connection. It creates miniature mobile phone towers for the home.
Stankey said the development was exciting because it would be difficult for any rival to compete in the voice space with someone who has a pristine voice connection in the home through a femtocell.
Actually, Sprint Nextel launched femtocells under the Airave brand last year in a few markets, and made them available nationally this summer. Verizon Wireless has said it is looking at femtocells. T-Mobile USA has chosen a different route, selling some phones that can connect calls over Wi-Fi routers.