Verizon has announced the availability of its upgraded femtocell router, the Verizon Wireless 3G Network Extender, which brings data capabilities to a box that was formerly only capable of voice and text transmissions. Femtocells, or “mini-cell sites” as Verizon calls them, hook up to a wired broadband connection and allow users within the coverage radius (in this case, about 40 feet) to route their calls over the internet instead of via cell tower. Such products are particularly useful for homes or businesses located in so-called “dead zones,” although they are still subject to interference like any other device transceiving radio signals.
AT&T and Sprint already offer similar services with their 3G MicroCell and Airave routers, respectively, while T-Mobile’s @Home option is a UMA solution that routes calls over WiFi. Both AT&T and Sprint charge monthly fees for their alternatives (even though you’re still burning through minutes and megabytes), as does T-Mobile for @Home. Verizon’s Wireless 3G Network Extender, on the other hand, will cost $250 up front but users will not incur any monthly charges. Up to six phones can be registered with the unit, although it’s not clear if that means all six can use the box simultaneously.
The updated femtocell is available immediately, either online or via telesales, seemingly nationwide.