Rumor has it that Sprint Nextel’s Airave femtocell technology will go on sale nationwide this month. Airave, which has been available in a couple of markets since September, is similar to T-Mobile’s Hotspot @Home service, which allows you to make calls from home via your mobile phone. And since the Hotspot service has been available for a year, a lot of experts say that Sprint is offering too little, too late. I disagree.
For starters, both services will only be available to each carrier’s own wireless subscribers. So Airave will target a pool of consumers who could have never bought Hotspot @Home in the first place, unless they switched their wireless service providers.
What’s more, there’s one big difference between what Sprint and T-Mobile offer. To use Hotspot @Home, you have to buy a Wi-Fi enabled handset. But any existing handset will work with Sprint’s Airave. That means that the potential market for Airave is much larger, and the service could pick up speed faster.
Of course, much will depend on Sprint’s pricing. Rumor has it that Airave will cost $25 to $30 a month — quite a bit more than Hotspot @Home, which only costs $10 a month. That said, even this higher price is comparable to what users pay to the likes of Vonage today, so, for consumers wishing to abandon home lines altogether in favor of wireless, Airave may be a good choice.