Sprint has finally made their AIRAVE Femtocell devices
available. Unlike AT&T’s previous launch of a similar device, this will be CDMA only. AT&T’s device is purely GSM, as that's the difference between two carriers. On top of that, Sprint is offering two devices rather than one. They are offering both an AIRAVE and an AIRAVE access point. The difference between these two is not immediately apparent other than their clear physical differences.
The AIRAVE only allows for the connection of up to three Sprint devices on the network while the AIRAVE Access Point allows up to six. In addition to that, the Access Point allows for data coverage improvement while the standard AIRAVE makes no such mentions in its features. Both devices have a theoretical coverage of 5,000 square feet which is the same as the AT&T Femtocell
. In addition to that, the AT&T device does support 3G so it is more like the AIRAVE Access Point. Although, the AT&T Femtocell only supports up to 4 calls per device, because of that it fits somewhere in between the AIRAVE and the AIRAVE Access Point when it comes to simultaneous calls.
In addition to that, Sprint is also charging their customers around $99.99 for the base station with no mention about the AIRAVE Access Point itself. AT&T’s pricing structure enables the device to be free if you pay a monthly charge for service or you can simply buy the device outright for $150. With Sprint, we see no mention of this in their pricing other than the required AIRAVE plan which is an additional $5-$20 a month ranging on usage and usage models for each household. In addition to that, AT&T did give away their devices to ‘valued customers’ with a coupon that effectively made the devices free. Granted, when you do purchase this device with a plan from Sprint… the minutes used at home do not count for minutes on your plan even though those minutes are occurring on your cell phone. This option is similar to AT&T’s but does is not optional like the AT&T plan.
For most, these devices are not really worth their breath. But for those that live in cellular dead zones, they are a godsend. Canyons are especially bad dead zones for cellular networks, and we know that the cellular companies are working on it but in the meantime these Femtocell devices
are a great temporary fix for poor data and voice coverage in some spots. Some people may argue about the coverage of Sprint and AT&T and compare the necessity of such a device based on those perceptions but in the end we’re not here to argue about that. This device has worked for people in the past, but the real question is… should the carriers be charging extra for these services and why isn’t Sprint offering a non-contractual option?
It is clear that some people need this service more than others and should the consumers really be fronting the bill for the companies who have failed to deliver good cellular service?
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