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Magicjack "femtocell" device 2010 Q1


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#1 Beave

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 07:09 AM

I'm suprised this hasn't come up on binrev yet!

http://tinyurl.com/ydfvmwk

[Link is SFW]

This is the new Magicjack "femtocell" product due to release 2010 Q1, if it doesn't become vaporware.

"MagicJack is demonstrating a device near the International Consumer Electronics Show this week that it claims will let consumers make VoIP calls using any GSM phone."

Basically, it acts as a "cell tower" within your home operating on the GSM frequencies. It'll more than likely, based on other products, use a SIP back end similar to other Magicjack hardware/VoIP devices. They say it'll cost about $40.00 bucks (some please just say it'll be under $100.00 bucks). It will supposedly cover a 3000 sq ft. area. After attending 26C3 in Berlin and watching "GSM SRSLY?" talk, here:

http://events.ccc.de...ts/3654.en.html

It brings up some interesting ideas, and is certainly a lot cheaper than getting a USRP2/Gnu Radio up and running.

The big questions in my mind are, will the "radio" side of this device be accessible from software? Oh god, I hope so. Even if it is not, it could still make for some fun and interesting playing. The Magicjack SIP devices have already been hacked out, so that side I'm not terribly worried about. I have some ideas about "how" it'll work. I suspect it'll operate much like the CCC "GSM" network at 26C3. That is, you'll have to force your phone to associate with the "Magicjack's cell tower".

What'cha thing?

#2 nyphonejacks

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 04:10 PM

interesting article..

i assume that they intend for you to use this with an old cell phone that does not have any service, at least that is what the article is implying... so if that is the case, would it be possible to use it with an active phone... would you need to forward your cell phone number to this magic jack number or would magic jack interconnect with your cell provider, to allow your cell phone carriers calls, and your VoIP calls to go thru there network?

also, can you get data on your phone from this connection? at what speeds EDGE? HSPDA? it would be great for those who have older smart phones that might not have wifi to use as a portable internet device around the home...


i am going to assume that you will not be able to use it with an active service phone - and if you do, you will not get your regular cell phone calls while it is connected unless you forward the cell phone to your magic jack VoIP number... i foresee another infomercial that might be a little misleading to many people, along the lines of... "fire your cell phone company"... or "pay just $--- a month (or year) for cell phone service"

with all that said, i would likely get one... but i would have to dig thru my old electronics bins to find a working GSM phone... would be nice if they came out with a CDMA version...

#3 chronomex

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 06:36 PM

i am going to assume that you will not be able to use it with an active service phone - and if you do, you will not get your regular cell phone calls while it is connected unless you forward the cell phone to your magic jack VoIP number...

Hrm, I thought I saw in an article about this that you can use it with a regular phone. The way they were planning to do it was to (presumably; the rest of this post is speculation) have the femtocell operate as a separate GSM Network, squatting on a MCC/MNC pair. When your phone is close enough to it (they said 3 meters), your phone will roam onto the femtocell.

This would pose a few problems:

1. Incoming calls. Yes. I think you'd have to set your phone to "forward on out of reach" to your MagicJack number.
2. Roaming. Your interaction with this femtocell is as if you are roaming, because you are. GSM phones roam promiscuously to the loudest carrier, with the caveat that in-progress calls cannot roam between carriers.
3. Security. I believe that roaming phones communicate unencrypted, as the only carrier with knowledge of the private key that's stored on your SIM card is your home carrier. Therefore, it would be trivial to snoop someone on a MJ femtocell using a USRP or something else.

with all that said, i would likely get one... but i would have to dig thru my old electronics bins to find a working GSM phone... would be nice if they came out with a CDMA version...


Yeah! I'm totally going to buy one to play with.
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#4 jeremy_

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 03:52 PM

I hope this gets a good modding community behind it. That is, if the FCC even lets this thing come out.

#5 nyphonejacks

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 01:52 AM

I hope this gets a good modding community behind it. That is, if the FCC even lets this thing come out.

that is true.. did not think of that.. the cellular frequencies are licensed frequencies that the cellular companies pay fees to the FCC to operate on... i do not think that the cellular carriers would be very happy if a device like this came out that was allowed to operate within the same frequencies that they paid the FCC a large sum of money to operate on... so i could see the cell phone companies putting pressure on the FCC to block this thing from coming out... at least until they are all done with 3g and are all up and running on there LTE networks that have yet to be built...

#6 Beave

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 10:07 AM


I hope this gets a good modding community behind it. That is, if the FCC even lets this thing come out.

that is true.. did not think of that.. the cellular frequencies are licensed frequencies that the cellular companies pay fees to the FCC to operate on... i do not think that the cellular carriers would be very happy if a device like this came out that was allowed to operate within the same frequencies that they paid the FCC a large sum of money to operate on... so i could see the cell phone companies putting pressure on the FCC to block this thing from coming out... at least until they are all done with 3g and are all up and running on there LTE networks that have yet to be built...


It'll definitely not have crypto enabled. About the FCC/freq. spectrum thing. The creator seems to claim that this is no different than using your FM transmitter in your car. Like the ones you use to play your ipod via your car's sound system. That's the claim at least. I'm interested in seeing "how" it works, if it is indeed not vaporware. I'm wondering if it'll operate similar to the 26C3/GSM site, or if the small GSM device will just "claim" to be various carriers. Of course, what I'm most interested in is getting my hands on one of these devices to *cough* play with.

#7 nyphonejacks

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 06:34 PM

just read this and had to laugh

http://insidetech.mo...coms-up-in-arms

Borislow said the device is legal because wireless spectrum licenses don’t extend into the home.

AT&T, T-Mobile and the Federal Communications Commission had no immediate comment on whether they believe the device is legal, but said they were looking into the issue. CTIA – The Wireless Association, a trade group, said it was declining comment for now. None of them had heard of YMax’s plans.


so how exactly does Dan expect to keep his pirate cell tower frequencies within the walls of customers houses?

i guarantee that plenty of people will place these devices in a manner where the signal would be transmitted mostly outside.. i know i would likely place it by my front window...

#8 dinscurge

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 07:04 PM

so how exactly does Dan expect to keep his pirate cell tower frequencies within the walls of customers houses?

i guarantee that plenty of people will place these devices in a manner where the signal would be transmitted mostly outside.. i know i would likely place it by my front window...


thats true that people would probably be using it outside but considering the low power they would most likely allow it, like it probably wont be much more than 50-100ft from the house. max range

#9 Beave

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 07:48 AM



so how exactly does Dan expect to keep his pirate cell tower frequencies within the walls of customers houses?

i guarantee that plenty of people will place these devices in a manner where the signal would be transmitted mostly outside.. i know i would likely place it by my front window...


thats true that people would probably be using it outside but considering the low power they would most likely allow it, like it probably wont be much more than 50-100ft from the house. max range


They claim it'll cover a 3000 sq ft. house.

#10 dinscurge

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 02:53 PM

They claim it'll cover a 3000 sq ft. house.

true but thats less than 55'x55' i mean in a circle thats around 31' radius i mean id be a diff story if it had like 500m radius or sumthin.

#11 Pan

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 09:50 PM

As of a couple days ago, the FCC had not received any applications for the device -- Part 15 Certification, Declaration of Conformity, or the like. It's usually bad business to advertise a product you haven't gotten cleared. Perhaps that was intentional to gear up public support. At any rate, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

#12 jeremy_

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 11:02 AM

I'm liking the Ooma Telo. Out of the box, it offers way more functionality and it looks like this will give you more bang for your buck. Here's some of their upcoming features:
http://www.ooma.com/...ello-ooma-telo/

#13 nyphonejacks

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 03:44 PM

it is good to see that ooma finally supports SIP... am i to assume that the shared resources, or P2P nature that got ooma started is no longer used...

they did yank all of the free features, and you need a premier account to really make it anywhere near compatible to a standard phone service...

so lets see... $120 per year for the premier, plus $10 per month for the international calling plus an additional $12 per year after the first year for taxes and fees... and you need to purchace the over priced hardware.... so what makes this a ooma a better deal than magic jack for $20/year... or vonage for 25/month for unlimited calling to 60+ countries...

#14 Beave

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 10:19 AM

it is good to see that ooma finally supports SIP... am i to assume that the shared resources, or P2P nature that got ooma started is no longer used...

they did yank all of the free features, and you need a premier account to really make it anywhere near compatible to a standard phone service...

so lets see... $120 per year for the premier, plus $10 per month for the international calling plus an additional $12 per year after the first year for taxes and fees... and you need to purchace the over priced hardware.... so what makes this a ooma a better deal than magic jack for $20/year... or vonage for 25/month for unlimited calling to 60+ countries...


Sorta getting OT in my opinion. I'm not really interested in MJs services, or DECT 6.0 connections. I'm interested more in the fem-to-cell and it's hackability of the device (GSM mini-cell site).

#15 nyphonejacks

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 10:39 AM

yup.. was OT.. i was just responding to jeremy_ comment about the ooma... so sorry about that...

the whole point of this topic is about the femocell technology that the MJ uses...

i assume that this one will also be a USB device that requires your PC to be powered on?

Edited by nyphonejacks, 25 January 2010 - 10:39 AM.


#16 nyphonejacks

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 08:00 PM

so is this thing dead or what??

have not heard anything about this in a long time...

#17 chronomex

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 05:47 PM

so is this thing dead or what??

have not heard anything about this in a long time...

It's totally dead.

As I understand it, YMAX Corporation (the company that owns the MagicJack brand) was bluffing when they said that they had deals with "a major carrier" in the works. They need a spectrum license to legitimately sell these devices, and all the GSM spectrum (that is, all the spectrum that any even semi-popular telephone has radios for) is allocated to existing licensees. They would complain quite loudly to the FCC if YMAX were to squat on their spectrum.

The purpose of this bluff was to make both of the large American GSM carriers (that's AT&T and T-Mobile, folks) think that the other was in on the deal and they were missing out. But, as it turned out, the bluff was transparent for whatever reason and neither cellco signed on. Without spectrum, YMAX had no way to sell devices and get away with it, so the microcells never came onto the market.

(As an aside, there's a semi-legal bit of spectrum they could squat on. There's a small bit of European GSM spectrum that lives in the US's unlicensed ISM band. Specifically, the downlink (tower → phone) frequency is 925.2 to 959.8 MHz, while the ITU Region 2 (North and South America) ISM band stretches from 902 to 928 MHz; the overlap is obvious (925.2 to 928 MHz). This puts the uplink (phone → tower) communication spang in the middle of someone's legitimately allocated spectrum (880.0 to 914.8 MHz). I'm not sure how the legal situation would work in this case, as the product you (the microcell vendor) are selling doesn't infringe, but it causes other devices to infringe. As usual, it would probably depend on how much money the legitimate owners of the spectrum in question have, and how much they care.)

It's my personal speculation that YMAX didn't even do the engineering on these, or certainly didn't do enough work to create a saleable product. It seems like them to either delay that until they've got someone else paying for it, or even just foist it off onto the partner directly.

I find it unlikely that the deal YMAX would have written would be advantageous to the carrier they eventually signed with. If I were operating a cellular carrier, there's no way I would ever ink a deal with that company. Read TProphet's Telecom Informer column on MagicJack in the Winter 2009/2010 issue of 2600 Magazine for some perspective on this ... unique corporation. :wink:

#18 nyphonejacks

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 08:22 PM


so is this thing dead or what??

have not heard anything about this in a long time...

It's totally dead.

As I understand it, YMAX Corporation (the company that owns the MagicJack brand) was bluffing when they said that they had deals with "a major carrier" in the works. They need a spectrum license to legitimately sell these devices, and all the GSM spectrum (that is, all the spectrum that any even semi-popular telephone has radios for) is allocated to existing licensees. They would complain quite loudly to the FCC if YMAX were to squat on their spectrum.

The purpose of this bluff was to make both of the large American GSM carriers (that's AT&T and T-Mobile, folks) think that the other was in on the deal and they were missing out. But, as it turned out, the bluff was transparent for whatever reason and neither cellco signed on. Without spectrum, YMAX had no way to sell devices and get away with it, so the microcells never came onto the market.

(As an aside, there's a semi-legal bit of spectrum they could squat on. There's a small bit of European GSM spectrum that lives in the US's unlicensed ISM band. Specifically, the downlink (tower → phone) frequency is 925.2 to 959.8 MHz, while the ITU Region 2 (North and South America) ISM band stretches from 902 to 928 MHz; the overlap is obvious (925.2 to 928 MHz). This puts the uplink (phone → tower) communication spang in the middle of someone's legitimately allocated spectrum (880.0 to 914.8 MHz). I'm not sure how the legal situation would work in this case, as the product you (the microcell vendor) are selling doesn't infringe, but it causes other devices to infringe. As usual, it would probably depend on how much money the legitimate owners of the spectrum in question have, and how much they care.)

It's my personal speculation that YMAX didn't even do the engineering on these, or certainly didn't do enough work to create a saleable product. It seems like them to either delay that until they've got someone else paying for it, or even just foist it off onto the partner directly.

I find it unlikely that the deal YMAX would have written would be advantageous to the carrier they eventually signed with. If I were operating a cellular carrier, there's no way I would ever ink a deal with that company. Read TProphet's Telecom Informer column on MagicJack in the Winter 2009/2010 issue of 2600 Magazine for some perspective on this ... unique corporation. :wink:


well perhaps when ATT gets their LTE network up, and most of their customers onto the LTE network, perhaps this thing might be a possibility? not seeing a reason for Tmobile to get involved, since they think HSPDA+ is 4G (not that LTE currently qualifies as 4G either, but at least it is much closer than HSPDA+ is)




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