Sprint’s 3G Airave now shipping to qualified customers

Sprint’s 3G Airave is now available from the wireless carrier but only select customers are allowed to order the device. Customers interested in the Airave access point must pass a litmus test to determine whether you would qualify and benefit from the use of the device. Each potential customer is reviewed independently and must demonstrate “specific in-building coverage issues”, according to Sprint spokesperson Mark Elliott.

If you pass Sprint’s test, the wireless carrier will hand over the Airave to you for free. The new 3G Airave will not require a monthly fee but will utilize calling minutes, data, and text messages from your monthly plan. In the end, though, the 3G version will be a lot less costly than its current 1xRTT counterpart which costs $100 upfront for the device and requires a $5 monthly fee.

Most people criticize femtocells and think of them as a crutch that the wireless carrier uses to avoid building out its network. While this may be partially true, there are many rural areas where network expansion is difficult due to the terrain and femtocell usage is a necessity. I, for one, live in one of those areas and would be without cellular coverage if it were not for the Network Extender in the basement of my house.

While I do support femtocells, I can not understand the carrier’s insistence on deducting minutes and data from my plan when I am using my internet connection to transmit the voice calls and packets of data. Anyone have any reasonable explanations beyond the obvious financial incentives?

[Via Fierce Wireless]

  • Jason

    They deduct your minutes because it pretty much just vpn’s in to their internal network.

  • Matthew

    Im in boston and have sprint cell service and also have sprint’s 3G/4G overdrive modem. I am all for the femtocells or in this case the airwave. I do think they should be offered for free since both parties would benefit in the long run. I would totally use this think its kinda lame you have to go through a lot of questions and they determine if your worthy enough for the airwave. I dont get good good signal where i am located in my building i am actually in the basement area of the building. The building also only has one service provider which would give you a T1 line for $500 a month. My small business can’t really afford something like that at this time. So thats why we use the mobile broadband, the airwave would be nice to have but since we dont have a broadband connection or broadband modem can’t use the airwave. I have just purchased a dual band cellular amplifier to solve my problem, also still no 4G wimax in boston yet, hopefully soon.

  • Nic

    minutes are usually deducted from the plan allotment because while yes it does originate on your isp’s network it still does come to the carriers backend network and at that point it is just like any other cell phone call. you are really just using the femtocell as a beginning point for the call.

  • Chuck

    Apparently the carrier pays a lot to license the frequency spectrum their devices use. So in a sense they “own” the frequency band you’re using, even for data, and part of your monthly fee goes to “rent” part of it for your use. For data, it’s true that you’re covering some of the backhaul, so they probably owe you a bit of a discount. But because of the way the FCC licenses the frequency spectrum, you do owe them something.

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