Sprint Airave Femtocell

I have had Packet8 VOIP for many years now. It predates my cellphone by a year, easy. I haven’t had any trouble with service. I do have a problem with getting spam from the email address I gave them. Actually, I am a tad pissed about it.

My cell phone company called me the beginning of the week trying to ‘give me a free phone’. Yeah, I don’t want to finance a phone for 2 years people. I bought this phone cash money. I would prefer to buy my equipment and pay a fair price for service rather then finance a phone for 2 years. Then, they called me again yesterday, same thing. Well I asked this 2nd dude about the Sprint Femtocell, AIRAVE. He couldn’t tell me anything about it.

Well, I started running the numbers. Katie (whom I shall not blog about) will be moving here in a couple of a months. Her whole family is in Florida, so lots of long distance calls is expected. I can spend $10 less a month and get the same unlimited free long distance out of my house using the AIRAVE instead of the Packet8. We can both use the femtocell at the same time.

A no brainer.

So, I went to pick one up. I drove to the local Sprint store. I waited for 45 minutes in line so people can pay their bills, and ask if they can use the insurance they bought to replace the phone because of a minor scratch on the face (really people, a !@#$%^ scratch?). No AirRave.

Ok. Chris, the salesman, started calling around. Next Closest store, nothing. Closest store after that, not answering the phone (don’t ask me how a phone store doesn’t answer the phone…). Well, anyway, 5 stores away, all the way in Schaumberg, they have one.

I am on my way!

Broken 2007 Ford Escape Fender Skirting caused by road debris
Driving down the road, chatting with CVS trying to get a super bowl party going. He asks what did you just hit? That’s right, I picked up some road debris, and the noise was loud enough that he can hear it over the phone. This is the damage to my trucklet. I just can’t have nice things.

I talk to the guy there. They had 5 of them. From what I heard, all the stores got one months ago, and they all sold them, and never got a restock on the AIRAVEs. This store got 5 restocks, and hadn’t sold a one of them. Odd, eh?

Set up was easy, but they couldn’t do it in the store. The guy had to call in, and tell THAT person how to set this thing up. I guess they don’t sell many of these things.

Total time from walking into a store, to walking out of a store with my new toy. 2 Hours. Sprint, it shouldn’t take this long for me to pay you every month for the privilege of providing your customers with better cell phone signal in my apartment building using my internet bandwidth. Really. 2 hours is ridiculous.

Sprint AiRave Femtocell and Packet8 modem Well, I get it home, take it out of the box. I set it up in a spot where Brother, my cat, won’t mess with it. Plug it into my network, hook up the GPS antenna and stick that in the window, plug it into the wall.

Blinken’ lights. I hate red blinken lights!

It took about half an hour, 45 minutes for the whole thing to turn on to where I can make a call on it after I plugged it in.

I have had it a few days, and I kinda like it. Ok, I really like it.

Signal has improved for most of the apartment. I think I can put the box in a less retarded spot – like not tucked in amongst a bunch of metal and another antenna and improve signal.

I am such a geek, I did a pre & post signal survey.
Room Location | Regular cell strength | Femto Cell Strength
Front Door | 2 | 2-5 — signal strength bounces wildly in this spot.
Dining Room | 2-3 | 3
Kitchen | 2 | 3-4
Living Room | 2 | 3-4
Sliding Glass Door | 4 | 4
Hall | 3 | 5-6
Bathroom | 2 | 4-5
Computer Room | 3 | 6
Bedroom | 3-4 | 5-6

Did you know that cell phones have 6 bars and not 5? No really, my cell phone gets 6 bars of signal in the apartment.

I still have to figure out the quirks yet. It likes to switch over to regular cell service when I stand in front of the garbage can in the kitchen.

I can make a call out, or receive a call in while in range and I get a beep-beep tone to let me know I am using my Femtocell. The phone can automatically switch over to normal cell phone service without any problems. I have yet to have it switch over to the Femtocell during a call.

My mother LOVES it, she says it’s loud and clear. The best phone connection I have had since I quit using real land-lines 5-6 years ago.

So, so far, this Sprint Airave Femtocell is a big win for me.

NOTE this post was finally published on Feb 1st at 12:21AM. It just took me this long to write it all up and get the Youtube video published.

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  1. From what I remember about the Airave, you will not be able to get it to switch from the Sprint “public” network to the Airave “private” network.

    Since, the best signal is used to determine whether to switch from the Airave to the regular cellular service, I am a little surprised that it does not sometimes switch near the sliding glass door, since it is a dead heat for signal strength based on bars (though perhaps the real RSSI number is always stronger from the Airave).

  2. Great review, thanks! I just called and ordered an airave this afternoon, hope to have it Friday!!

  3. Hi, You have a Great Blog, I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep it up.

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