Sprint just rolled out a new device that let’s current subscribers free themselves from a land line. The device, (horribly) named Airave, allows a customer to use a broadband connection to enable VoIP functionality for their Sprint cellular phone.
The idea is that when you are outdoors, you use your regular Sprint plan. However, when you are at home, the phone switches to use the Airave, which also comes with unlimited call time. This means you have full reception no matter where you live (a common complaint, I am sure). Priced at a very competitive $50 for the device and $15/mo for the VoIP service, this bundle has a lot of potential. If it took an extra step to integrate with existing VoIP phones, it would be a home run. But given enough time, I am sure such products will evolve into exactly that.
Aside from the guaranteed awesome indoor reception and the flat rate calling, I like this product because it successfully merges VoIP phones with cell phones in a behind-the-scenes way. From Sprint’s perspective, it is genius: offload the network bandwidth of calls and dump them on the Internet provider — and charge a monthly fee for this privilege. Perhaps the most cunning point is that this service can convert virtually all Sprint customers who have land lines (i.e., steal customers from AT&T) thanks to the price that is very competitive to land line services (I pay $22 a month for my useless landline).