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Airave, Sprint and FCC?????


Airave, Sprint and FCC?????

First off, for a number of years I built sprint cell sites; I understand some of the FCC rules and how the equipment works. Second, I was sold the airave at a corporate store and was told it was going to work in my area. Third, I am within five miles of a Sprint owed site. The problem is there are two mountain rages on the Gamma side of the poll therefor I am not within eye sight of the tower and do not get service.

I was on the phone with a airave tech and was told that I am not in a service area and told me that I would not be able to use the airave. I purchased the unit over 30 days ago and can not return the unit and from what i understand I have a two year contract on the airave. The problem that I have with all of this is that the airave has worked fine until i unplugged it a few days ago. After plugging it back in the system light continued to blink. The question is why did my airave work if i am not in a covered area? Is this the FCC or Sprint? Is the base station that powerful that each station requires its own FCC license? Is this due to the Radio Frequency? From my experience all cell site are required to have a signs posted all around the site warning of RF (radio frequency) exposure. I was told this evening that this is a mini cell site, if this is the case is there any danger with me having the unit next to my computer and where my children set? Why is there no warning on the airave unit? What is the RF level coming from the airave staion?

According to the sprint fact sheet the airave have a 50000sf coverage area. That is about 166 yards from the airave base unit. I have a 5.8 GHz cordless phone that has a longer range then airave and i dont have to answer to the FCC. Why can i use a 5.8 GHz to transmit and receive my land line phone provider (which I believe is a higher frequency than the airave) as apposed to the airave (if I recall correctly CDMA is at 850 hz, and PCS is at 1900 hz) that is doing the same as 5.8 GHz land line base station?

I could understand the unit not working if the GPS/E-911 were not fuctioning, but they are. My airave was working perfectly no droped calls and clear!

I am really at a loss here, after spending over an hour on the phone with sprint airave tech none of my questions were answered. I left feeling a miss once again with sprint. Can anyone please help me?


Re: Airave, Sprint and FCC?????

You said you know some FCC rules and build Sprint towers. How is posible you made this question? Airave works in your area because it use your broadband connection to transmit the call and not rhe Sprint towers. Mobile phones and wireless home phone work diferently even some use same frequency, so it there are diferents FCC rules. Mobile phone  use more power and RF because it needs transmit call in the air to the nearest tower. A wireless phone use your phone line to transmit the call dont have to travel long distance between handset and the little base.


Re: Airave, Sprint and FCC?????

These questions come after talking to Airave suport, and after being told that the Airave would be the solution to my problem. What they failed to tell me at the point of sale that if you are not with in a few miles of a sprint owned cell site, you would not be able to use the airave due to a licensing with the FCC.

My question exactly, "but this is a broadband devise and does not run off of repeaters?". So how come does it not work? it the actual transmiton,of the signal (RF) from the airave unit that falls under the FCC rules. So with having said that how much RF exposer is my family being exposed to?


Re: Airave, Sprint and FCC?????

It comes down to licensing and the Airave must be within Sprint operated markets. So for example previous to the iPCS merger the Airave was not available in the iPCS affiliate market due to a no compete clause in the contract. It is the same in other affiliate markets (if there are any anymore). It isn't as simple as just licensing the spectrum from the FCC, it also comes down to where Sprint can operate their network within the US. The Airave doesn't put out nearly the power of a regular tower hence the much much smaller coverage area. It is more along the lines of a WiFi hotspot, there aren't signs posted around about power output warnings for those are there?


Re: Airave, Sprint and FCC?????

Halcyon's exactly right.  The GPS antenna isn't just for E911.  It's also to make sure the device isn't used in a non-Sprint market.  Since the freqs being used are licensed, the FCC has final say.  Believe me, I would love to roll out the airave all over the country.  The government approved this license with the understanding that Sprint would use it within it's own markets to supplement the signal that was already there.  I can't tell you how many people I've talked to that have 4 - 5 bars outside of their home and the signal drops to marginal indoors.  This is usually do to the construction of the building, EMF interference, signal attenuation, etc.  This helped considerably as no carrier can 100% gurantee signal inside a building.  The airave allows you to get a guaranteed signal withint 5000 square feet.  In a nutshell, the FCC wants to make sure that any one company doesn't use devices such as this to take over other markets. 

Normally the requirements are that you be in a Sprint area and not more than 15 miles from a tower.  Usually, if your within a Sprint market, you won't find yourself beyond this distance from a tower.  Outside of that, the system will not let a unit be setup.

Depending on what the area is like around you, it might be possible to get a network engineer to check the area out.  If it can be done, they can adjust the tower to perhaps improve your signal.  If you're outside of a Sprint Market, we can still investigate.  Generally, we just have to go through whoever controls the towers in that area.  Another option is to try a simple PRL update.  This would update the file that controls the pecking order in which the phone searches through towers.  Generally, the customers that are having a problem with signal tend to be on the edge of Sprint Coverage.  So, their phone will still pickup a marginal signal from Sprint and if it loses signal completely, then it shifts to roaming.  A PRL update may or may not fix the problem, but it's very easy to do, can be done over the air, and takes about 1 minute to complete.   

Also, there are no contracts on the airave units.  You can add and remove them any time.  What I would do is talk to the manager of the store that sold you the airave and see if you can return the unit.  The rep should have keyed in the zip code to check to make sure the Airave would operate in your area (

5000 square feet is about 40 feet in any given direction.  Keep in mind we're talking 3 dimensions here.  So, imagine a sphere containing 5000 square feet.  So, what you're really dealing with is something like this....

Where y = the number of feet you can walk / fly in any given direction before you reach the edge of the bubble...

y * y = 5000 / 3.1416

y * y = 1591.545709

y(squared) = 1591.545709

y = 39.89

Wow, I can't believe I actually used that.  And to think, I swore up and down to my geometry teachers that I would never use this stuff.

The max output power of an airave is 50mw.  A cell phone is generally like 6 - 7 times that power.  But, since the airave is capable of sending and receiving to 3 different phones at one time, the FCC decided to limit the power.  They're so strict about deviation from this, Samsung had to use a very expensive oscillator in order to calibrate them.  Even with all this, every once in a while we have to deal with interference between towers and airaves & airaves and airaves.

Message was edited by: Groovedaddy


Re: Airave, Sprint and FCC?????

I don't mean to burst your "bubble" but I think your math is a little fuzzy.

5,000 square feet is an area roughly 70 feet by 70 feet. (70 x 70 = 4900)

A 40 x 40 x 40 foot cube, or sphere would contain 64000 cubic feet of space.

I stand corrected. My apologies.

Message was edited by: jpleakis


Re: Airave, Sprint and FCC?????

I think you are the wrong in math. You can't use the volume formula of a cube for a sphere.  For a sphere you need to use Pi=3.14. YOu need to return school.

Sprint Product Ambassador

Re: Airave, Sprint and FCC?????

He was pretty close - it's around 40 or 50 feet.

back of the envelope math:

5000 ft^2 circle == pi * r^2

5000 / 3.14 = r^2

sqrt(1600) = r

40 = r

Product Ambassador, long time Sprint employee

Re: Airave, Sprint and FCC?????

Big thing is volume (units^3) and area (units^2) don't mix, as volume is a third dimension.

So we take Will's correction and apply it fully to volume

According to the internet: V = 4/3 pi r^3

V = (4/3)*(pi)*(40^3)

V ~ 268,000 cubic feet


But I seriously doubt that someone will put the airave max 30 feet above ground level (allow for some basement coverage, 10 feet). So that volume would shrink somewhat. It also might not be possible to place the unit in the dead center of the building, thus removing some coverage yet again.

But the math to figure out every possibility is pointless!

Message was edited by: miketech_79


Re: Airave, Sprint and FCC?????

70.71x70.71=5,000sqft. but radio waves from an omni directional antennae radiate in all directions of a plane, most do not radiate very far directly up or down.. Sprint's claim is not given in cubic feet however and the volume of the sphere is irrelevant anyway. The area of a circle would be the most appropriate estimation of the range under ideal conditions, no walls, no interference .

pi r sq=5000


So that would say that the Airave has a range of 40 feet in any direction without anything in the way and that is unfortunately about what I have found.

Digital cell phones put out a maximum of .6 watts and says the typical femtocell, which is what the Airave is, put out .1 watts.

Don't worry about the baby, his / her baby monitor puts out more.

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