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Cellphones Wireless Networking

MagicJack Femtocell Gates Cell Traffic to VoIP 243

olsmeister writes "MagicJack is demonstrating a femtocell device at CES that will allow any GSM phone (locked or unlocked) to place free phone calls over the internet using VOIP. The device costs $40 and includes free service for 1 year. It supposedly will cover a 3,000 sq ft house."
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MagicJack Femtocell Gates Cell Traffic to VoIP

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  • by bflong ( 107195 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @01:58PM (#30697286)

    I would love to have something like this that interfaces with Asterisk.

  • by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:01PM (#30697330) Homepage Journal []

    Seems like there is a lot of comments in the blogosphere against Magic Jack. I hardly had time to see if it is a campaign against Magic Jack or it is a legid.


  • by DarthBart ( 640519 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:08PM (#30697430)

    Works fine if you want to leave your Windows box on 24/7, plug another USB device into it, and install their ad-laden call manager software. Oh, and its great if you like non-existent tech support.

    No free lunches, folks. Unlimited service for $19.95/year isn't possible unless that money is coming from ads, a ponzi scheme, or outright fraud.

  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:11PM (#30697466)
    While I can see this working great for people out in the middle of nowhere that somehow have great internet and terrible cell service, I can't see this working for the average person to make free calls. For one, this solution would eliminate any encryption meaning your calls are able to be intercepted with ease, another is, I'm not entirely sure that Magic Jack would encrypt your calls going over the internet leading to possible interception there, and then if it was broadcast through another femtocell it could be intercepted through there again. In short, it may be a way for people to save a few bucks, but at the cost of any privacy.
  • Re:Is this legal? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _LORAX_ ( 4790 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:12PM (#30697478) Homepage

    Illegal as hell under FCC rules since this would would be an unlicensed device intentionally disrupting a licensed service. At least that's my reading, the device might as well be a DoS for legitimate users within the range of the device.

  • Requiem for UMA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JSBiff ( 87824 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:12PM (#30697486) Journal

    You know, T-Mobile, a few years back, introduced UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) [] with some of their phones (which T-Mo has subsequently marketted under 3 different names, you know, to confuse their customers, I guess), but none of the other carriers picked up on it, and T-Mo pretty quickly abandoned it - I believe their network still supports it, and some/all of their Blackberries support it, but they pretty quickly stopped advertising it, none of the Android phones support it, and T-Mo has quietly gotten rid of every non-Blackberry phone that used to have the UMA feature.

    It's really kind of a shame - UMA is a great idea: basically, any WiFi hotspot that you can connect to become a "cell tower" (well, it routes cell phone traffic over a tunnel on the Internet, to T-Mo's network, so it basically becomes VoIP). This Femtocell idea is something that some of the other carriers are sort of testing (I have some relatives on Sprint who got one because there is very poor reception at their house). But, I think UMA is a superior solution to these femtocells, because a) with UMA, you need a phone with UMA support, but you had to get a phone anyway, so adding UMA to phones would have been almost 'free' from the customer perspective, with the only other equipment needed being something you *probably* already have, and if you don't, you can get dirt cheap at Microcenter, Best Buy, Fry's, etc., and B) the femtocell will *only* work at your own location where you put it, whereas UMA would work with any Internet connection and most Wifi hotspots, which means that I could take advantage of it at other locations if they have WiFi (relatives or friends houses, school, work, shopping, etc) too.

    Now, I think with the Android phones, you can now do some VoIP calling, but the advantage with UMA was that calls would seamlessly transfer between wifi and the cell network (if you left Wifi range, or entered Wifi range). It's really a damn shame that the cell phone industry didn't adopt UMA as a feature, because to me, it seems like a vastly superior approach than femtocells.

    I suppose it's theoretically possible that UMA could rise from the ashes, but at this point, it seems kinda dead. More's the pity.

  • Re:Is this legal? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:20PM (#30697608)

    Doesn't the "one watt or less" rule come into play? I.e. if the broadcasting power is under one watt, then no license is required.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:20PM (#30697620) Journal
    When it takes only slightly more tech-fu to get a real SIP based setup working. However, if they are actually planning on selling a $40 USB peripheral than functions as a GSM femtocell, I am interested. Very Interested.

    Reverse engineering the sucker, and getting a Free driver built would be a hell of a boon to small scale asterisk setups and similar. Most devices running asterisk or other software PBXs have at least one USB port, and being able to set up your own asterisk integrated femtocell would be awesome(either to let you take advantage of a lower priced/fewer minutes plan by doing all your home calling over a cheap SIP trunk or simply to take advantage of the fact that used and/or low-end GSM handsets are substantially cheaper than decent Wi Fi based SIP handsets are).

    I don't assume that they would approve(and I can't imagine that team traditional telco would be too happy either) but if MagicJack is actually planning to make femtocells as cheap as USB wifi dongles, they get a gold star from me.
  • by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:38PM (#30697860) Homepage Journal
    MagicJack is designed to work with existing land-line type phones. It's quite a bit different than what you're talking about. It's a USB device you plug into your computer, the phone goes into the device and the software connects to the VOIP server. From one of the guys I know who has it, it's possible to plug the MJ into your household outlet and have your phones around the house as well. There is a power limitation on how much the phones can draw, but most phones made today do not have a problem with that.
  • Re:Is this legal? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ink ( 4325 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:47PM (#30698018) Homepage

    By your logic, those minijack-to-FM transmitters should also be illegal, but they're not. The FCC allows people to broadcast as long as they restrict it to a certain power level that won't interfere with others.

  • by JDeane ( 1402533 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:54PM (#30698100) Journal

    You made me think of something...

    If I was ATT or Verizon or T-Mobil I would want everyone to own one of these things.

    The reason being is that on my cell phone (I have the unlimited plan so I gave up ye olde land line years ago) 90% of my calls are made from home. I suspect my usage probably mirrors a lot of other users. (maybe a different pattern for teens running to friends all the time and what not but they like texting anyway so thats almost no bandwidth used)

    They would save huge amounts of wireless bandwidth and put the burden on the broad band land lines.
    Better yet they could keep charging the same amount of money for a lot less service.

    Just one of my random probably insane thoughts but thats the way I roll lol

  • Re:Requires PC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Friday January 08, 2010 @02:56PM (#30698130) Journal

    This post will mention specific products and services, but of which I am a customer and the following is my testimony.

    For my home phone:
    I signed up with CallCentric for free.
    I bought a Linksys PAP2 for $50 before shipping. (This is the VIOP box which allows me to keep my standard phone/message machine)
    I set it up with CallCentric and tested the service with CallCentric-assigned ph#.
    For $20 I ported my phone# over to CallCentric.
    For $3.95 a month, I get calling and $0.015 (1.5cents) per minute calling to US and Canada. The fee is a 911-recovery fee and some other fee.
    My phone bill is less than $5 a month.

    There is no PC required, just the PAP2 and the broadband connection. I even get callerID!

    This is my monthly bill:

    This email is a receipt of your transaction.

    Product name Period Price
    DID - Pay Per Minute - 14106661533 Jan 01, 2010 - Jan 31, 2010 $ 1.95
    911 Cost Recovery Fee $ 1.50
    Billed from Credit card: $ 0.00
    Billed from Balance: $ 3.45

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson