I have a friend who runs an event barn that often hosts parties of 200-300 people. Unfortunately, the barn is located in an area that has weak cell service from all providers. To add to the complication, the barn has complete aluminum siding and a tin roof.
I suggested that he purchase some femtocells like the Airave to help alleviate the problem (he does have wifi and thus internet in the barn).
He said the inability to make voice calls is a problem, but the inability to send text messages is an even bigger gripe of clients attending the parties inside his barn.
Question is, if he adds a femtocell such as the Airave, will all his clients with CDMA phones (even if more than 3) be able to send/receive text messages? My guess is that if he has a party of 300, roughly 30 of them might have Sprint phones.
My understanding is that all the CDMA phones would be able to associate with the Airave, but only 3 would be able to initiate 1xrtt and/or voice calls simultaneously. But what about the SMS texting? Is it also limited somehow?
I think for that many users I would get a repeater. The go for around $200-$400 but don't require service plans/agreements. In the case of a dual-band model, you would get AT&T, Sprint (CDMA only), Verizon and T-Mobile. This is providing you can locate an antenna outside the barn to pick up the cell signals that are at the barn.
I am not sure how many conversations they can hold at one time, but likely would work out better than being limited to 3-5 connections. As far as I know the 1xRTT text messages get sent via a separate control channel, but you might still be limited to 3-5 connections because voice calls are also 1xRTT and they are limited to 3-5 connections per airave.
Here is an example of one:
I would counter with this one to be honest:
Specifically read up on big building systems via this page: http://www.powerfulsignal.com/KitsBuilding/BuildingKits.html
The first one is more for SOHO ( Home Office, small house applications, etc ) so not good for that many people and area covered.
Nextel is still going to be shanked so you'll have to buy one of those as well if you are looking for completeness.