Verizon Releases Cell Phone Boosting Hardware

The company's femtocell device will increase coverage using a customer's broadband service, and Verizon won't charge monthly fees.

Verizon Network Extender

Verizon Network Extender
(click for larger image)
Consumers can be incredibly frustrated when they don't get cell phone reception in places they spend a lot of time at, such as work or home. To combat this, Verizon Wireless is bringing out a femtocell that could boost a cell phone's range.

The Verizon Network Extender is essentially a mini-cell tower that works by using a customer's existing broadband Internet connection to provide coverage in an area up to 5,000 square feet. The femtocell, which is made by Samsung, can also enhance the ability to send text messages, surf the mobile Web, and download e-mail, but it doesn't support 3G speeds on Verizon's 3G network.

"Current and prospective customers have told us they want this, and we are responding to that demand," said Jack Plating, executive VP and chief operating officer for Verizon, in a statement. "For those who have wanted to sign up for Verizon Wireless service but hesitated because of reception problems unique to their home locations, this is the answer."

Perhaps the most appealing factor of Verizon's femtocell is the lack of a long-term commitment. The cell phone booster will cost $249.99 plus taxes, and there will be no monthly fees. Rival Sprint Nextel has also rolled out a network extender for $99, but its Airave comes with a $10 monthly fee.

Verizon and Sprint aren't the only carriers to enter the household and put more pressure on traditional landlines. T-Mobile has launched a hybrid cellular and VoIP service that offers unlimited domestic calling for $10 a month in addition to a wireless contract. AT&T has been testing a commercial femtocell that will also boost 3G data coverage, but no price or release date has been set.

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