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Sprint Launches First U.S. Femtocell Service

Making good on previously announced intentions, Sprint Nextel has launched a limited commercial femtocell trial in Denver and Indianapolis, dubbed AIRAVE.

The service, the first of its kind in the United States, works with a Samsung-manufactured compact base station (also called AIRAVE) that plugs into a broadband Internet connection inside the home in order to boost indoor cellular coverage.

For now, the AIRAVE service is priced at $15 per month for individuals and $30 per month for families, in addition to the customer’s regular wireless voice plan. Users get unlimited local and long-distance calling without using wireless minutes when inside the home footprint, then calls are automatically transferred back to the Sprint PCS network outside the home. Meanwhile, the AIRAVE CPE device costs $49.99.

“With the AIRAVE, Sprint is delivering an enhanced in-home coverage solution that’s simple to access, low in cost and compatible with any Sprint phone,” said Ajit Bhatia, director of product management for Sprint. “In addition, with unlimited in-home wireless calling, the AIRAVE makes it even more convenient for customers to rely on their Sprint phones at home.”

Sprint plans to make the AIRAVE available later this year to customers in the remainder of Denver and Indianapolis, along with Nashville, Tenn., and to expand to customers nationwide in 2008.

The service stakes out the territory T-Mobile USA Inc. entered in June with its Hotspot@Home service, which offers much the same functionality, only using Wi-Fi rather than a femtocell for the in-home coverage.

If we look forward a few years the wireless phones we use will log on and off of a variety of network connections, depending on signal strength, price, etc., noted industry analyst Jeff Kagan.

Sprint Nextel www.sprint.com


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