Sprint begins offering EV-DO femtocells

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Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) has started shipping a new Airvana femtocell product that supports EV-DO data connections, a Sprint spokesman confirmed.

sprint airave evdo airvana"Sprint is offering the Airave Access Point for customers who have specific in-building coverage issues," Sprint spokesman Mark Ellliott told FierceWireless. "Each customer situation is reviewed independently to determine whether the customer would qualify and benefit from Airave use. This is an updated Airave model, and does support Sprint 3G (EV-DO) data speeds." The initial version of Sprint's Airave device, which was made by Samsung, was released in the summer of 2008 and supports only CDMA 1x service.

Elliott said that Sprint customers who qualify can receive the device for free. Additionally, he said, customers must return the product if they deactivate service or they will be charged a non-return fee. Elliott said there is no additional monthly charge for using the femtocell and that all minutes, data and text messaging used with the device will come from the customer's monthly rate plan option.

Earlier this spring, AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) launched a nationwide femtocell offering, the 3G MicroCell, which it developed with Cisco. AT&T sells its MicroCell for $150 with a $20 per month plan for unlimited calling via the product. However, data usage on AT&T's femtocell counts toward a subscriber's data cap.

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) also has a femtocell that supports CDMA 1x service, called the Network Extender. "We have not announced a 3G femtocell product yet, although we have said in the past that we expect to offer a product like it in the future," Verizon spokesman Tom Pica told FierceWireless in April.

For more:
- see this Engadget post

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