Sprint Goes Femto

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has revealed its first femtocell -- a $50 box intended to provide free calls and improved in-house coverage for users of its CDMA network.

The $49.99 Airave box from Samsung Corp. is being launched first in Denver and Indianapolis before rolling out to the rest of the country in 2008. The Reston, Va.-based operator says it will charge a flat fee of $15 a month for the service -- $30 for families -- but in-home calls will not use up subscriber's existing wireless minutes.

The appliance uses a tiny CDMA radio to connect to the subscriber's cellphone and then pumps the call over a local Internet connection. Several major operators around the world are testing or planning to use home base stations -- or femtocells -- to improve indoor coverage and decrease calling costs for subscribers. Sprint, however, is the first of the big U.S. operators to launch such a product.

Airave currently most directly competes with T-Mobile US Inc. 's [email protected] service. The differences being that the T-Mobile service requires a dedicated dual-mode handset with WiFi to work. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is also rumored to be looking into femtocells. (See T-Mobile Launches UMA in USA and Is AT&T Putting Out Femto Feelers?)

Sprint is also expected to introduce similar devices as it rolls out its first nationwide WiMax network in 2008. (See Sprint Goes Femto With WiMax.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

lrmobile_rusty 12/5/2012 | 3:02:35 PM
re: Sprint Goes Femto The big difference I see here with a Femtocell is that you can't hold down your cell minutes outside your home. With UMA you can go to any Wi-Fi location, even overseas, and make calls for a flat fee without draining minutes. A Femtocell would help at home, but for people that travel a lot I think UMA is much better.
tomcoseven 12/5/2012 | 3:02:33 PM
re: Sprint Goes Femto Femto and UMA are very different markets. UMA requires a specialized handset, but can be used in the enterprise and hot-spots to reduce per minute costs for high volume and international callers. Femto's primary advantage is to extend coverage at home with existing low-cost handsets. Having good reception at home is one of the biggest reasons for switching carriers, and Sprint is getting killed on residential coverage. Why wouldn't Sprint use Femto to hold (or gain) market share against Verizon and AT&T??? If you needed Sprint Femto because of weak coverage at home, most people would switch to a carrier with a stronger signal rather than pay an extra $360/year. Why is Sprint charging their customers extra to compensate for it's worse residential coverage than Verizon?
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 3:02:21 PM
re: Sprint Goes Femto
I bought a UMA phone for the cell coverage at my home. Works great. I do not want to be forced to buy a new router and my Linksys works fine with my phone.

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