Sprint/Samsung Instant Cell-to-Wi-Fi Box Is Official, Named Airave

Illustration for article titled Sprint/Samsung Instant Cell-to-Wi-Fi Box Is Official, Named Airave

Sprint's answer to T-Mobile's Hotspot@Home, Airave, makes its official debut today in Denver and Indianapolis before hitting the rest of the country next year. Samsung's femtocell-powered box can handle three calls at once and will go for $50, with the service running $15 a month per person or $30 per family. While you have to pay for the box (unlike H@H), you can use any Sprint phone with it since it blasts a local CDMA channel before sending the signal through the tubes, which might just make it worth the price of admission—well, that and unlimited free calls from your couch. Full presser:

Sprint Customers in Select Areas of Denver and Indianapolis Get AIRAVE for Enhanced In-Home Coverage and Unlimited Calling Monday September 17, 8:00 am ET Sprint Introduces Industry-First Femtocell That Works with Any Sprint Phone for Convenient, Reliable Wireless Use at Home

OVERLAND PARK, Kan.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Sprint (NYSE:S - News) customers in select areas of Denver and Indianapolis will now be able to enjoy enhanced wireless coverage and unlimited minutes in their homes with today's limited launch of the Sprint AIRAVE by Samsung in the two cities. The Sprint AIRAVE is the first commercially available femtocell, a compact base station that works with any Sprint phone and a broadband Internet connection to provide enhanced in-home wireless coverage plus unlimited calling.

"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."

With the Sprint AIRAVE by Samsung, Sprint customers can:

* Get enhanced coverage in their homes.

* Talk all they want while in their homes, without worrying about using their wireless minutes. Unlimited incoming and outgoing calls and nationwide long distance are included while using a Sprint phone at home.

* Take advantage of enhanced coverage and unlimited home calling without having to purchase a new phone. All Sprint phones are compatible with the AIRAVE.

* Reduce their monthly communication expenses. AIRAVE service is priced at just $15 per month for individuals and $30 per month for families, in addition to the customer's regular wireless voice plan.

* Easily install the device using their existing broadband Internet service and a power outlet.

* Have their calls automatically transferred back to the Nationwide Sprint PCS Network when they leave home.

Starting today, Sprint customers in select areas of Denver and Indianapolis will be able to purchase the AIRAVE at area Sprint stores for $49.99. Sprint plans to make the AIRAVE available later this year to customers in the remainder of Denver and Indianapolis, along with Nashville, and to customers nationwide in 2008.

For more information regarding the AIRAVE's availability in their area, customers should visit www.sprint.com/AIRAVE. There customers can enter their ZIP code to find out if they are in a limited launch area. Customers not in a limited launch area can then register on the site to receive notification when AIRAVE is available to them.

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It's not WiFi, it's good ol' American 1900 MHz CDMA.

The real question is, which approach is better: T-Mobile's WiFi method or the mini-cell concept? You have to buy new equipment in either case. With WiFi, you need a new phone, with the femtocell you just need the base station. When you think about it, using something as universal as a WiFi connection represents a dramatic change for the cell phone world where nothing is compatible with anything else.

To answer the question about whether it will work internationally, in theory it should. In order for it to *not* work, the device would have to know where it is. The only two reasonable methods for that would be GPS (unlikely) or some kind of IP filtering which probably wouldn't be very reliable.