Sprint's Magic Box Is World's First All-Wireless Small Cell

If poor network coverage has you thinking about switching away from Sprint, the US's fourth-largest carrier may have a (magical) fix for you. Sprint just announced its new Magic Box, a signal-boosting solution designed to “dramatically improve” customers’ network experience. The carrier claims the Magic Box can increase average data speeds by 200 percent and can reliably cover a 30,000 square foot indoor area.

In a promotional video for the Magic Box (embedded below), Günther Ottendorfer, Chief Operating Officer of Technology at Sprint, stressed the box's simplicity. The indoor unit installation process is as easy as they come; find a window, plug it into a power outlet, and the box will automatically connect to the nearest tower in a matter of minutes. Best of all, the unit only takes up about as much space as a shoe box, so it won't be too unsightly.

Powering the unit is what Sprint calls LTE User Equipment Relay, created for wireless backhaul. Typical backhaul connections require physical cables and the labor to install them, adding costs to the carrier and consumer. Wireless connections remove both of these problems, making the Magic Box more portable and convenient than past solutions. Sprint stressed that this is more than a "simple repeater" in their press release; the box connects directly to 2.5 GHz and 1.9 GHz spectrums, creating a sort of mini-network that bypasses over-crowded spectrums. As a result, Sprint claims its towers run more efficiently and can "deliver more data (at faster speeds) to Sprint subscribers than it could without the Sprint Magic Box."

The box is aimed at consumers and small business that rely on Sprint's network for everyday connections. Magic Boxes will come at no cost to "qualified" users, though Sprint has yet to detail what those qualifications are. AT&T offers its customers a similar solution, known as the MicroCell, which acts more like a cell booster and requires connection to a broadband landline internet service to work. The service isn't free, either; AT&T may charge customers up front for the MicroCell or require a two-year contract depending on the consumer's needs. Sprint's new Magic Box looks to break this trend and keep customers attached to their network as hassle-free as possible.

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