Take Your Phone Inside with Sprint’s Airave

If you find that poor signal quality means you have to go outside to use your Sprint mobile phone, the company might have a solution for you—at least if you live in Denver or Indianapolis. The new Sprint Airave, built by Samsung, is basically a femtocell base station which extends the range of Sprint’s wireless network into a small area (say, a building) by tapping into a broadband Internet connection as a way to enhance in-building wireless phone service. When users go out of range of the Airave, calls switch back to Sprint’s wireless network. The Airave improved cellular reception over an area of about 5,000 square feet, and is capable of handling three wireless calls at once.

"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 Sprint director of product management Ajit Bhatia, in a statement. "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’s Airave is the second in-home service from a mobile carrier to emerge this year: the first was T-Mobile’s HotSpot@Home. T-Mobile’s offering requires specially-equipped phones, where Airave worked with any Sprint mobile phone (although Nextel handsets are not supported).

Airave is available today in Denver and Indianapolis for $49.99 (although rebates are initially available) with a monthly service fee of $15 for individuals and $30 for families. Sprint plans to roll out the service to other parts of the United States in 2008. The company is also eyeing a version of the Airave for small businesses that could handle a larger number of simultaneous calls.