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Verizon's $250 In-Home Cell Phone Booster

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 21 comments

Verizon has a new, $250 router-sized device that will boost cell phone signals inside the home, promising connections that will make it easier to dump that old-school landline.

The catch with the Wireless Network Extender is that it requires connection to a broadband Internet line. While the idea seems like another VoIP gimmick, the company stated earlier today that the WNE is ideal for homes where location, geography, or structural conditions interfere with reception. Unfortunately, the device only works with Verizon phones, however the company said that Verizon Wireless customers will not be charged any additional monthly fees to use the WNE.

 “Our new Network Extender device will bring the full benefit of the Verizon Wireless voice network to the small but important segment of customers who may experience a weaker signal in their homes because of geographic or structural conditions,” said Jack Plating, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Verizon Wireless. “Current and prospective customers have told us they want this, and we are responding to that demand. For those who have wanted to sign up for Verizon Wireless service but hesitated because of reception problems unique to their home location, this is the answer.”

The device, manufactured by Samsung, serves as a "mini-cell site" (femtocell), routing Verizon Wireless calls through the customer's broadband connection (minimum speed of 300 kbps is required). According to the company, the WNE provides coverage in an area up to 5,000 square feet. However, it does not support EV-DO speeds and services that require it, V Cast and Location Based Services (VZ Navigator, Chaperone). Verizon said that consumers could still use those services, but only from the nearest Verizon Wireless cell tower.

Last year, Sprint began selling a similar device, the Airwave (also made by Samsung), for $100, but charges an extra $5 a month for its use. AT&T plans to release a femtocell as well, and is currently testing the technology in employees' homes, however unlike the other two, AT&T's femtocells will support 3G data connections. According to the Associated Press, T-Moblie USA chose not to take the femtocell route, and instead expand indoor coverage using Wi-Fi routers.

But even though the new WNE device has its limits, Plating seems optimistic about its benefits. "It’s like getting a million-dollar cell site in your home for $249.99,” he said. “Network Extender makes Verizon Wireless’ reliable network even more reliable, filling in nooks and crannies for customers who see the need.”

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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 26, 2009 7:02 PM
    My question on something like this is if the cell phones will conveniently use this if the cell's signal is poor from a conventional tower (i.e. I install one in my house and my and my four neighbor's verizon signal is poor, so suddenly all my bandwidth disappear because we're all now using the booster all unknown to me).
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 26, 2009 7:34 PM
    @Psimitry

    if it's anything like sprint's setup, you wuold be able to limit who get's access based on phone number
  • 0 Hide
    ram1009 , January 26, 2009 8:29 PM
    None of the "solutions" I've seen will allow me to use the wired extensions I already have in every room of my house. I would never replace my landline with a cell phone I had to carry from room to room.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 1, 2009 6:02 AM
    Sprint solution is called the AirAve, not the Airwave. Also I am not sure about this on the Verizon or AT&T versions but on the Sprint one the calls made while on the AirAve do not come off your plan minutes, which imho is a big deal. The lack of 3G access though is a problem and something I hope they work out real soon.
  • -1 Hide
    jacksonmarketing , September 19, 2010 4:29 AM
    While the femtocell is a cool new emerging technology, if you're thinking about purchasing one to increase your signal strength at home I highly recommend taking a look at this article before doing so:
  • -1 Hide
    jacksonmarketing , September 19, 2010 4:32 AM
    Here is the link for my above comment: http://ezinearticles.com/?Cell-Phone-Signal-Boosters-Vs-Femtocells---Which-One-Is-Right-For-You?&id=5022930
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 13, 2011 12:36 PM
    Using your cell phone as your primary home phone. I have used the "Xlink BT" in our rural home for a year and it works well. This unit connects wirelessly to your cell phone and is then hardwired to your regular phone. We have a primary telephone with several satelite units. It has the capability of connecting to 3 cellphones. Hope this helps
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 20, 2011 1:01 PM
    Does it handle data traffic? What speed can it handle? Any bandwidth caps from ISP internet providers?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 22, 2011 6:45 AM
    If cheap Verizon added more directional radiators to their local towe,r WE their customers would not need to spend $400 bucks to solve the reception/transmission problem they have created !!!!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 30, 2011 7:01 PM
    i just hooked one up and my verizon phones work great before i had no service now ive got full reception thanks verizon
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 14, 2011 11:38 PM
    Hey we have bought verizon phones... and activated them to have service that they claim is the best.... We shouldn't have to pay for something so we can use our phones at home. They should give them to us to keep their customers. What happened to their customer service?
  • 0 Hide
    kwitchywoman1 , October 27, 2011 7:36 PM
    i have been looking for a network extender cause where i live there is NO service at all and verizon customer for years now they are saying that i need there network extender for service where i live for 250.00 that is not fair I have been paying 200.00 a month for years and now they have something to help why not just put a tower out here and that way alot more people would be customers????
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 8, 2011 3:11 PM

    Ok so you have limited cell coverage in your area and you install this mini cell tower device that allows you to use your cellphone inside your home and this mini tower connect to your broadband network

    so your paying a cell bill each month to make call inside your house using a device that you
    had to buy and that you may be charge a monthy fee on a broadband network that you pay a monthy fee all just to make a call inside your house Daaaaaaaa landline or at least if you have a small signal outside look into a signal repeater ( antenna outside- repeater- antenna inside
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 18, 2011 6:13 PM
    I have finished my service contract and instead of a new phone from Verizon (or a competitor) I asked for this comparably priced item so their coverage map (apparently of fantasyland) has some connection to reality. They said no, pay for it. Would it be socialistic to demand the service they advertise? And we are supposed to shop around for health care with the same government concern for consumers? Besides, they comments I have read says it doesn't work that well anyway!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 11, 2012 8:35 PM
    Have one and the reception is still poor.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 17, 2012 11:15 PM
    This is CRAZY!!!!!

    We have to pay for a signal booster to boost the poor signal Verizon offers???

    Just fix my signal, don't try to sell me more crap!!!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 6, 2012 3:10 PM
    I live in a rural hole on the earthapparently because no company has cell phone coverase at my house. I can only have dial up or crappy satellite internet. I can go about 2 miles in any direction and get signal. I have waisted a lot of money on crap trying to get better signal. All BS aside does anybody know of a booster that will actually help my situation????
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 20, 2012 10:43 PM
    I have been a verizon wireless customer for years. My replacement phove HTC Incredible 2 gets zero signal when upstairs in my home. Seeing it's a problem caused by verizon I called them to inquire about this product. I was informed by a supervisor not only would they not provide the extender at no cost or at a reduced cost there is a mothly charge which is the same as havivg an extra line added to my account. So Verizon ststing there is no additional mothly charge in this article is totally false.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 28, 2012 6:34 PM
    I suddenly have poor service in my home. I went to Verizon and they upgrade some software, that didn't work. then they said download the software fro the new Iphone, that didn't work. Then they tried to sell me the extender for $250. I refused. May I remind you of the whole "can you hear me now" thing!
    They offered me a discount on the extender is said "no"! Then they called me and said they would send it to me for free. Well, that's more like it. Haven't received it yet though.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 8, 2013 8:35 PM
    First, if you have no ability to get DSL, you can't get an extender. We finally got DSL where I live two years ago (about 6 months before we got garbage service!).

    You do NOT Have to pay any monthly fee! We've had the extender since it first came out and have not had any monthly fee. It's a one time $250 fee. To me, it's worth it to make the phone usable. The problem is where I live the landlines are in the ground and have been for 30+ years. They are bad - so bad even on a bright good day, there's nothing but noise. If it rains or snows, you can't use a landline at all. Not to mention everything is long distance and we had to pay more than what we pay for 4 cell phones. So for us, this was a great thing.

    My problem and what led me here, which is of no help, is like computers, is there a time when the darn thing needs to be replaced? Like I said, we had ours once they first came out - so that was roughly 2009. It's now 2013. Our worked great for years. Now, though, it needs restarted often and once you get it working again, instead of full strength signal (like it had been for years), it's not just a bar or two if you are lucky. Still makes it work for texts, but calls are being dropped if they are even picked up at all. I'm searching to see if these things have a expiration time period, which I'm thinking heavily that they do. I don't want to spend that kind of money IF that's not the case. And of course, Verizon says all is just peachy keen on their side and say I should get a new one. Of course they'd say that. I was looking for others on their experiences. Apparently I'm going to have to just bite the bullet and buy a new one and see if that fixes the issues we have. But this is a really great thing for those that are in poor/no signal areas - such as my family. As I said, I live so far away from everything, after this came out, we finally got a garbage service to come to our home - though we have to all have dumpsters because they only come out once a month. But at least that's better than what we had been doing. The point is this is a great device and like all electronics there are issues here and there. But in the end, it was so worth the cost of it and there is NO monthly charges.
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