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An indoor cellular access point that routes cellphone calls over the Internet. Connecting to the home or office network, which must have a broadband Internet connection, the femtocell is a mini cell tower with a range of approximately 5,000 square feet. When users are within range, their phones pick up the stronger femtocell signal rather than a weaker signal from an external cell tower.

Help the User; Help the Carrier
Femtocells let people make and receive calls inside buildings where cellular reception may be poor. They also help the carrier, because calls that traverse the femtocell and Internet provide relief to their over-the-air networks in congested metropolitan areas. Contrast with mobile broadband router.

AIRAVE, MicroCell, Network Extender
In 2007, Sprint introduced AIRAVE, the first cellphone femtocell in the U.S. In 2009, AT&T and Verizon introduced the MicroCell and Network Extender, respectively. WiMAX carriers also encourage the use of femtocells for improved indoor coverage (see WiMAX).

Reroute Via the Internet
The femtocell is like a mini cell tower inside the home or office that routes cellphone calls over the Internet to the carrier's network.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Handoff from Sprint's AIRAVE [TM] or Verizon's Wireless Extender femtocells to a nearby macrocell is supported, but not all femtocells work in the opposite direction: You have to re-establish the call when entering the femtocell area.
Femtocell base stations are starting to trickle into the markets, with Sprint releasing Samsung's Airave this past July and T-Mobile launching @Home, which allows subscribers to plug their home phone into a T-Mobile router.
TELECOMWORLDWIRE-17 September 2007-Sprint Nextel unveils Airave device(C)1994-2007 M2 COMMUNICATIONS LTD http://www.m2.com
The Airave device has been unveiled by communications company Sprint Nextel Corp which is aimed at boosting wireless signals indoors and directing the calls over the Internet, providing a cost effective way to support additional traffic.
Sprint Nextel said the Airave hooks into the customer's current broadband connection, increases cell reception over an area of around 5,000 square feet and can handle up to three calls simultaneously.
It claimed Airave solves call quality problems and confirmed the company is looking at a small business version able to handle 12+ calls at once.