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Sprint Rolls Out Femtocell

  • Posted: Tuesday, August 05, 2008
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Femtocell

By Brad Smith

The battle for the home has started. After 9 months of testing a femtocell built by Samsung, Sprint has decided the technology and service are ready for nationwide prime time.

Sprint is going to start selling its Airave femtocell nationally starting Aug. 17 at a price of $99.99 for the Samsung device plus $4.99 a month for the service. Sprint is the first U.S. carrier to use femtocells.

Airave essentially is a mini-base station that users plug into their existing broadband access, such as DSL. Samsung said the device is plug-and-play and will provide coverage over a 5,000-square foot area, or roughly the size of a typical home lot. Users can have up to 3 Sprint CDMA phones programmed to use the femtocell. It works with any Sprint phone except those using the Nextel network. If someone is using a phone on a call connected through the femtocell and roams outside the coverage area, the call will roam to a regular base station.

The Airave has been in use in three trial markets since last fall – Denver, Indianapolis and Nashville, Tenn..

A spokeswoman for Sprint said the operator’s customers are using their phones more than ever in their homes and with Airave will get enhanced coverage plus the option of unlimited calling from home.

Some people have compared Sprint’s femtocell to T-Mobile USA’s HotSpot@Home service, but the two are basically different. T-Mobile USA uses a dual-mode phone with Wi-Fi to connect to an access point, with the in-home connection using Unlicensed Mobile Access technology. Airave doesn’t require a dual-mode phone.

ABI Research has forecast there will be 70 million femtocells globally by 2012. In-Stat has forecast 40.6 million femtocells by 2011. The main interest for femtocells is expected to be in North America and Western Europe. [WirelessWeek]

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