Magicjack’s femtocell to cost about $40

Will most likely anger GSM operators

VOIP TELEPHONY TOOK off with the help of Skype, but the biggest hit in the US and Canada at the moment is the slightly oddly named “magicJack” service, which we’ll call Magicjack. Rather than just being a software solution the Magicjack is a small USB dongle to which a normal phone is attached and it allows you use the phone as you normally would when connected to the POTS line.

However, during CES the company unveiled that it would be offering a femtocell later this year that would allow people to bypass the expensive call rates charged by the cellular network operators – in this case, those with GSM networks – by routing the calls through the Internet and its own network. This is all good an well for the users of the Magickack, but as the network operators have started to offer their own femtocells, they’re not too happy about this.

Adding insult to injury, Dan Borislow who’s the inventor of the Magicjack suggested in an interview with Laptopmag that the new femtocell version is expected to sell for “around the same price as the current Magicjack”. That means it’ll set you back around $40 which is less than half the price of the femtocells offered by the cellular network operators. However, it seems like Magicjack’s femtocell has a few hoops to jump through first, least not the fact that some cellular network operators are expected to try to sue Magicjack.

For starters it’s not clear if Magicjack’s femtocell is meeting FCC requirements as its jacking in (no pun intended) on frequencies that require licenses, although Dan Borislow claims that this is all legit under part 15 of the FCC regulations regarding unlicensed transmissions. However, there are certain restrictions as to where you can use the femtocell, but your home and several other locations including onboard a boat, airplane or any other type of transportation. We’ll see how this pans out, but considering that the femtocell has power restrictions, it should have a huge range.

The neat thing is to set things up you only need to bring your cellular phone within 8 feet of the femtocell and place a call to it and this allows the femtocell to pair up with your cellular handset and start routing calls through it rather than the carriers network. There has been some speculation of a second SIM card being required, but the Laptopmag interview doesn’t make any mention of this. Considering that calls via Magicjack’s network inside the US and Canada are free, this seems like a fantastic deal, but will it be too good to be true?S|A

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