Sprint’s got a problem and that’s LTE reception in homes and businesses. They’ve gotten significantly better over the years in terms of coverage and backbone bandwidth, but they’re still lagging behind.
To help remedy that the Sprint Magic Box has been released. Unlike the other device we tested (the Airave,) the Sprint Magic Box does not use your internet to set up a fake cell site, nor is it just an amplifying repeater. The Magic Box is just a box that sits near a window and functions as an LTE User Equipment Relay. If you’re an IT person you can think of it as a LTE switch.
Basically this box talks to your cell phone and then screams at the tower “HEY TOWER HERE’S SOME DATA”. The Sprint Magic Box is powerful enough to serve as an LTE relay for nearby apartments and businesses so chances are good if your service just got great in your apartment complex it’s because Andy in apt 302 is now footing the electricity bill to to scream LTE to a tower.
The screaming to the tower and talking to your phone at a reasonable volume lets your phone function LTE wise as though it’s seeing great LTE signal at the expense of a few milliseconds and Watts at the Magic Box.
This sort of solution probably will lead Sprint to claiming that an area has LTE coverage that’s being provided at the expense of customers of theirs rather than them expending money covering the area, but at least for the end consumer it’s a start at getting the service they were expecting when they signed up.
The Sprint Magic Box plugs into an outlet, and then requires a little bit of setup, then just works giving consumers with bad signal or bad throughput an average of a 200% increase.
It should be noted that while LTE towers are required to have battery backups, there’s absolutely nothing preventing the Magic Box that’s functioning in your apartment complex from being unplugged by Andy’s Roomba, cat, or Andy just messing with you.
The Sprint Magic Box will be cost free to customers, operating it however will cost something in electricity per year.[Sprint Newsroom]