Your search for the once promised femtocell from magicJack might have landed you on this Techspirited article. However, we regret to inform you that there is no magicJack for mobile phones after all. A lot has happened since the device was first announced. The company itself, merged with VocalTec and has shelved plans of a femtocell, which could enable free calling through cell phones. Instead, they now provide a free iPhone application, dubbed as 'FREE Calls with magicJack', which lets you make calls for free, from your cell phone, providing the same functionality. To know exactly, why the great idea didn't take off, keep reading ahead.
Before talking about the now shelved idea of femtocell, let's talk about its land line service, which now offers two devices - magicJack (plugs into a computer for free VoIP calling) and magicJack Plus (works with or without a computer, by plugging into a router, to offer free VoIP calling).
About magicJack Plus
There are many VoIP service providers today that offer excellent voice quality, for calls routed through the Internet, at unbeatable costs. MagicJack Plus is a device that can enable free Internet based telephone service. The device uses a USB port, that can be plugged into a computer or router and using a RJ-11 phone jack, any telephone can be plugged into it. After subscribing for a phone number, a user can call any phone in USA and Canada for free. It is a scheme which is better than the cheapest cell phone plans on offer.
You must have checked out the infomercials shown on television which have made it a surprise hit among many people. Many people are opting for the magicJack phone number instead of conventional telephony. magicJack Plus costs $69.95 and the basic gadget, magicJack, which only plugs into a PC, costs $39.95, besides shipping charges. A year of service is free, enabling you to call any number in USA, Puerto Rico, US Virgin islands and Canada, free of cost. Past a year, you must pay a yearly fee for continuation of service. Since 2007, the company has sold millions of units. Their success in the landline domain prompted them to make plans of invading cell phone territory. The company made plans to sell magicJack for cell phones, by utilizing the femtocell technology. The idea was to enable users to place calls through cell phones and via the Internet at practically no cost! Here's why it didn't work...
Why it Never Took Off
People got a sneak peek of how magicJack will work, when it was demonstrated at the 2010 consumer electronics show and was slated for release very soon. It planned to use femtocell technology to connect cell phone users with their Internet based voice network to make local and international calls. The cost of the device was planned to be around $40, to provide free calls in USA and Canada for a year. However, its usage was supposed to be confined to your home and it wasn't planned to be a substitute for your cell phone.
The range of wireless connectivity, that would have been provided by this femtocell magicJack (a kind of wireless router) connected with your computer (which has a broadband Internet connection), would have been limited and you could have placed calls from your cell phones, only when you are in the vicinity of the device. To register your cell phone, it had to be inside a radius of 8 feet. Once connected and authenticated, your cell phone would become a VoIP phone and you can make calls through the Internet, without using the cell phone provider's service.
It would have provided improved voice clarity for home users and substantially reduced cell phone bills. Since this service was confined to homes, there was supposedly no issue of wireless spectrum license infringement (However, this was probably the major roadblock that led to its shelving). So magicJack would have converted them into wireless VoIP phones. This service was supposed to be used with any GSM cell phone and its range was designed to cover a 3,000 square foot home area. So what happened?
Well, since there is no officially communicated information, one can only guess. Probably, the wireless spectrum infringement issue and the possibility of legal battles came in the way of this product getting launched. Another reason might be the launch of AT&T MicroCell, which provides essentially the same functionality, which magicJack femtocell would have provided. Meanwhile the company merged with VocalTec (pioneer in VoIP technologies), which possibly brought a sea change in its business policies. Also, instead of fashioning of a new device, building a software application on the 3G mobile platform, which could offer free calling, probably made much more sense. That explains the launch of their iPhone application in the form of 'FREE Calls with magicJack', which you could opt for and gain the same advantage as a femtocell.