By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Spotwave Wireless, the marketer of commercial-grade indoor cellular-repeater systems, entered the small office/home office (SO/HO) market with a $399-suggested Zen system that improves the indoor signal coverage of any 1.9GHz cellular network.
The system yields clearer voice quality, maximizes cellular data throughputs, and boosts standby times up to 60 percent and talktimes up to 100 percent, the company said. It operates in 1.9GHz cellular networks because "most propagation problems" occur in the 1.9GHz band compared to the 800MHz band, she said.
The self-installable product is due in April through the company's Web site and through retail and channel partners. SO/HO customers previously bought one of Spotwave's small-business repeaters at $995, said spokeswoman Connie Costigan.
Unlike other residential repeaters, it uses adaptive repeater technology to constantly monitor network power levels and adjust its gain in real time, eliminating radio feedback and noise into the network, she said. "If the network changes in any way, the product adapts and acts as a perfect mirror to the network in order to avoid interference and maintain integrity." The feature is used in Spotwave's commercial products.
Although interference created by other repeater brands "is not readily heard by the user," she explained, it can degrade cellular-network capacity, leading to dropped calls. "If the interference is problematic enough, it has been known to affect the base station as well."
The residential system includes a network access unit, or master antenna box, which is placed in the home near a window or wherever signal strength is best. A smaller "coverage unit," which connects to the master antenna by a thin cable, communicates with a handheld cellphone to improve the phone's signal within a 2,500-square-foot area. The coverage unit plugs into a home's power outlets via an AC adapter.
Although the system emits less than a milliwatt of power inside the home, it delivers 65 db of signal gain and "can turn a very poor signal into full bars," she noted. Competing devices emit up to a full 3 watts of power. "They are not a good option if you're looking to benefit from reduced RF emissions," she said.
One competitor is Atlanta-based Wireless Extenders, which markets separate 800MHz and 1.9GHz repeaters to keep price down to a suggested $299 for the SO/HO market. A unit for Nextel's spectrum is planned for the first quarter.
Spotwave is delivering a solution that's "affordable, simple to use and provides the best coverage possible for prosumers dependent on wireless devices," said sales and marketing VP Sam Baumel. "At the same time, we're providing a product that protects the integrity of the carrier's network while adapting to changes in the wireless environment. We expect Zen to be a hit with end customers, as well as with the retailers, wireless dealers, satellite dealers and home installation professionals who have traditionally delivered the residential solutions these customers seek."
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