MagicJack Hopes To Make Cell Phones Work Over Your Home VoIP Line

Updated: January 07, 2011

MagicJack, the company behind the popular and successful VoIP gadget that sells via infomercial and at places like Walmart, is now trying to do for the cell phone what it and many other companies did for the landline - make it much cheaper and scoop the remaining revenue for themselves, using a device called a femtocell.

The new device will plug into your internet at home, much like a router or any other more traditional VoIP device. It will then become a femtocell. A femtocell is a teeny tiny cellular access point (femto is a scientific prefix that is even smaller than a pico) with a range of a about a thousand feet or so. At this point, any cellular device in range can register with the MagicJack femtocell and the device will make the connection and convert a call into a VoIP call and connect it over an internet-based VoIP network rather than the normal cellular carrier network.

The result would be a call that did not register with the carrier and that would be carried over the VoIP network. Currently MagicJack uses a flat fee model so the call would essentially be free. Several other companies have previously come out with similar devices without success, mostly because they were expensive. The MagicJack device is certain to cost under $99 according to Dan Borislow, the founder of MagicJack. Later reports say that it will cost about $40. Incidentally, before the device works it will first have to 'register' the cell phone which can only happen when it is within 8 feet of the device. After that, communication range will extend as far as over 1000 feet. No mention is made of interference and crossover with the carrier's main signal or to the fact that cellular radio signals are often blocked by walls, particularly walls with metal in them (for example stuccoed walls that have a metal mesh block cellular signals very effectively).

The cellular industry has not yet responded to the new device publicly except to say that they are looking into it. Their basis for having an issue is that the cellular frequencies the device uses are in fact privately owned by the cellular companies (purchased from teh government at auction) and so they are entitled to be concerned about other uses. However, Borislow contends that the licenses are for public airwaves and do not include transmissions inside a private building.

Business phone systems can also handle cell calls now - particularly the useful feature of automatically transferring a call to a desk phone when you walk into your office. TO find out more, take a look at our VoIP System Buyers Guide.

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