Cellular GSM magic Jack

Status
Not open for further replies.

Squad10

Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
Messages
918
LAS VEGAS - The company behind the magicJack, the cheap Internet phone gadget that's been heavily promoted on TV, has made a new version of the device that allows free calls from cell phones in the home, in a fashion that's sure to draw protest from cellular carriers.

The new magicJack uses, without permission, radio frequencies for which cellular carriers have paid billions of dollars for exclusive licenses.

YMax Corp., which is based in Palm Beach, Fla., said this week at the International Consumers Electronics Show that it plans to start selling the device in about four months for $40, the same price as the original magicJack. As before, it will provide free calls to the U.S. and Canada for one year.

The device is, in essence, a very small cellular tower for the home.

The size of a deck of cards, it plugs into a PC, which needs a broadband Internet connection. The device then detects when a compatible cell phone comes within 8 feet, and places a call to it. The user enters a short code on the phone. The phone is then linked to the magicJack, and as long as it's within range (YMax said it will cover a 3,000-square-foot home) magicJack routes the call itself, over the Internet, rather than going through the carrier's cellular tower. No minutes are subtracted from the user's account with the carrier. Any extra fees for international calls are subtracted from the user's account with magicJack, not the carrier.

According to YMax CEO Dan Borislow, the device will connect to any phone that uses the GSM standard, which in the U.S. includes phones from AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA. At a demonstration at CES, a visitor's phone with a T-Mobile account successfully placed and received calls through the magicJack. Most phones from Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. won't connect to the device.

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.

Borislow said YMax has sold 5 million magicJacks for landline phones in the last two years, and that roughly 3 million are in active use. That would give YMax a bigger customer base than Internet phone pioneer Vonage Holdings Corp., which has been selling service for $25 per month for the better part of a decade. Privately held YMax had revenue of $110 million last year, it says.

U.S. carriers have been selling and experimenting with devices that act similarly to the wireless magicJack. They're called "femtocells." Like the magicJack, they use the carrier's licensed spectrum to connect to a phone, then route the calls over a home broadband connection. They improve coverage inside the home and offload capacity from the carrier's towers.

But femtocells are complex products, because they're designed to mesh with the carrier's external network. They cost the carriers more than $200, though some sell them cheaper, recouping the cost through added service fees. YMax's magicJack is a much smaller, simpler design.


Great application for personal use. It will be interesting what the Govt. does or does not say about it.
 

zz0468

QRT
Joined
Feb 6, 2007
Messages
6,029
Borislow said the device is legal because wireless spectrum licenses don't extend into the home.
That's the part of the story that interests me. I'm real curious to see how that interpretation works out for them.
 

talkpair

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2009
Messages
920
Location
Clinton County, MO
Borislow said the device is legal because wireless spectrum licenses don't extend into the home.
i dunno about that.

Perhaps they get around it by maintaining a power level below 100 mW.

I don't see the advantage of using this magic-jack device, since you can make a wireless call for next to nothing without this 3rd party device.

Sounds like this is just a way to temporarily convert your GSM handset into a VOIP handset.
(and most likely blocks your incoming cell calls in the process)

Unlike the cell phone repeaters that are marketed, which pass the signal onto the carrier, this thing sounds like it hijacks the phone off it's intended network and forces it onto the internet.
 

Squad10

Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
Messages
918
i dunno about that.

Perhaps they get around it by maintaining a power level below 100 mW.

I don't see the advantage of using this magic-jack device, since you can make a wireless call for next to nothing without this 3rd party device.

Sounds like this is just a way to temporarily convert your GSM handset into a VOIP handset.
(and most likely blocks your incoming cell calls in the process)

Unlike the cell phone repeaters that are marketed, which pass the signal onto the carrier, this thing sounds like it hijacks the phone off it's intended network and forces it onto the internet.
You are refering to domestic calls. I use magicJack to place and receive international calls with other magicJack users. The cell phone extension concept offers a real convenience to me.
 

gewecke

Completely Banned for the Greater Good
Banned
Joined
Jan 29, 2006
Messages
7,440
Location
Illinois
The box is illegal.
If that thing is indeed illegal then it'll be interesting to see if the ad gets all the tv time that the magic jack does? I'm not sold on that thing either.:roll:
n9zas
 

K4IHS

Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2002
Messages
688
Location
Charlotte, NC
MagicJack is a pretty big company! You can bet they've done their homework. It will probably work like a wireless router... very low power... no FCC license needed? I'm predicting somebody is going to make a small fortune here... :)
 

Squad10

Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
Messages
918
MagicJack is a pretty big company! You can bet they've done their homework. It will probably work like a wireless router... very low power... no FCC license needed? I'm predicting somebody is going to make a small fortune here... :)
Yup, $$$$$magicJack, $$$$$AT&T, & $$$$$T-Mobile when it is all sorted out among them.

The FCC has not yet received an application for the device, which MagicJack plans to start selling in the second quarter. YMax CEO Dan Borislow told IDG News Service that it had not yet submitted the device for FCC approval, but that it would be a "slam dunk" for approval.


The service, set to debut in the second quarter, lets users make and receive calls inside their homes using their regular cell phones for US$20 a year. It works by sending calls from a user's GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phone to a femtocell connected to their computer. From there, the call is carried as VoIP (voice over Internet protocol).

The catch is that between the mobile phone and the femtocell, the call uses cellular frequencies licensed to either AT&T or T-Mobile. MagicJack says it doesn't need permission from the operators to use those frequencies within the home.

"In your home, you own the frequency," said MagicJack founder Dan Borislow. The MagicJack femtocell is not powerful enough to work outside a 3,000-square-foot home, according to the company. In addition, the software that comes with the femtocell will let users set the power level themselves to cover the appropriate area, with a default of about 500 square feet, Borislow said.

Kevin Werbach, assistant professor of legal studies and business ethics at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, called this a clever argument. "It would arguably be an unreasonable search and seizure under the 4th Amendment to shut down such a transmitter," he said.

Technically, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission doesn't give property rights to cellular operators, instead giving them license to transmit and protection against interference, he said. "Here, the only interference is arguably with the end user who purchases the MagicJack device (and therefore has no objection). I'm not sure this will fly, but I assume it's the argument they will make," he said via e-mail.

Werbach, who served as counsel for new technology policy at the FCC under the Clinton administration and co-led a review of the FCC for President Obama, isn't aware of this argument being tested in the past.

FCC spokesman Bruce Romano said it would be difficult to comment on the legality of the service since he couldn't find any application for the device on file with the agency. Borislow said the MagicJack femtocell has not yet been submitted for FCC approval but that it would be a "slam dunk" to get it approved. The company's original MagicJack, for wireline phones, has FCC approval, he said.

Instead of using the property rights argument, MagicJack might be able to have its femtocell approved under the FCC's so-called Part 15 rules. Part 15 allows products to operate in licensed frequencies without a license if they use very low power to prevent interference, said David Josephson of Josephson Engineering, who is a radio engineer and wireless enthusiast. Borislow said the MagicJack femtocell complies with Part 15 regulations but the company has not submitted the product to the FCC for authorization under those rules.

Neither AT&T nor T-Mobile replied to requests to comment for this story.

The wireless industry is already embroiled in a debate about a type of device that has raised similar issues. Last week, the FCC sought comment on several petitions concerning cellular signal boosters, which are designed to amplify and extend mobile operators' signals into homes and other places where subscribers are unsatisfied with their coverage. Since 2005, five different petitions to the FCC have been filed by entities with different views on signal boosters.

Most notably, the main trade association for U.S. mobile operators, the CTIA, filed a Petition for Declaratory Ruling in 2007 asking the FCC to clarify that it is illegal to use a signal booster without the consent of the spectrum licensee. Last year, the DAS Forum, part of PCIA - The Wireless Infrastructure Association, responded to the CTIA's move with a Petition for Rulemaking that asked the FCC to resolve interference issues without resorting to regulations that inhibit the sale of signal boosters.

The FCC is seeking comment on the various petitions by Feb. 5. Although the wireless MagicJack isn't exactly a signal booster, it raises similar issues about interference and the use of carriers' licensed frequencies, said Paul Sinderbrand, an attorney at Wilkinson Barker Knauer in Washington who has long had experience with wireless issues.

FCC rules prohibit the use of a transmitting device on licensed frequencies without a license, but they allow companies to make and sell devices that the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology has approved, Sinderbrand said in an e-mail interview. The engineering office looks at devices only in terms of technical rules such as power levels and assumes they will be used legally.

"As a result, FCC-approved signal boosters are being made widely available to the public and are often being installed and operated without a licensee's consent, raising harmful interference concerns," Sinderbrand said.

The CTIA declined to comment on MagicJack's femtocell.

The MagicJack femtocell should be less objectionable to carriers because it only works for people who have chosen to use it, Borislow said. By contrast, anyone who makes a call in a building that has a signal booster is automatically using the booster even if they don't know it's there, he said.

The bigger difference is that MagicJack lets users make calls without using up minutes on a carrier's network. That fact may anger the operators but doesn't give them a stronger legal position, according to Borislow.

"That's not a legal argument. That's just, 'I'm a little crybaby,'" Borislow said.

AT&T has tested femtocells for its subscribers but held off on broad commercial deployment. Ralph De La Vega, president and CEO of AT&T's mobility and consumer markets unit, reportedly said last month that femtocells were still too hard to use.

MagicJack has talked to large carriers in the U.S. that have acknowledged that its femtocell could be useful, Borislow said.

"They have failed strategies. Their femtocells are too expensive and they're too hard to use. We have the only one that makes sense in the world," he said.

"If they were smart they would take me on as a partner, because all I could do is enhance the value they create for their customer," Borislow said. "The biggest complaint is that cell phones don't work in their houses. Now I have a solution."
 
N

N_Jay

Guest
Lets put it this way.

It is being discussed on a forum with a lot of professionals in the field, many of whom are considered to be very knowledgeable (even "experts").
No one in that discussion can see how it can be legal.

There is not "Part 15" permissible transmitters on the cellular bands (like there are on TV and other bands.
 

Squad10

Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
Messages
918
Lets put it this way.

It is being discussed on a forum with a lot of professionals in the field, many of whom are considered to be very knowledgeable (even "experts").
No one in that discussion can see how it can be legal.

There is not "Part 15" permissible transmitters on the cellular bands (like there are on TV and other bands.
Money talks and everything else walks. My position is that magicJack will profit for their efforts even though the deliverable may or may not have the magicJack name on it, I think it will.
 

gewecke

Completely Banned for the Greater Good
Banned
Joined
Jan 29, 2006
Messages
7,440
Location
Illinois
I personally don't have a need for anything from "magic scam" but I gotta see how they intend to snow the public with the tv ads. All this assuming of course,that the thing gets fcc acceptance?:lol: The product reviews that follow will be interesting too!
n9zas
 

K4IHS

Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2002
Messages
688
Location
Charlotte, NC
I must be the only one? I've had 2 MagicJack's for over a year and they work great! I can't wait to play with the new magic gadget. I'm gettin' in line... :)
 

mikepdx

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
818
Location
Corbett, OR USA
The device then detects when a compatible cell phone comes within 8 feet, and places a call to it.
"In your home, you own the frequency," said MagicJack founder Dan Borislow".
Sounds like this is just a way to temporarily convert your GSM handset into a VOIP handset.
(and most likely blocks your incoming cell calls in the process)
Interesting argument. Super low power. 8 ft radius.
It would have to be far, far less than 100 mW as suggested in one reply to this thread.
If there's no way whatsoever the signal can leave your own premise, what could it interfere with?

I'm thinking signal-wise, it's akin to my working on a transmitter on dummy load.
I'm not licensed for that particular service. But I can work on it - xmitter keyed - on dummy load.
I guarantee you that some signal is radiated. I pick it up on my scanner nearby.
I've never measured the actual field strength/distance.
I'm not the licensee.
Am I breaking the law when it radiates 8 ft - 10 ft away?
I could make use of that very low power emission in many ways if I chose to.
 
Last edited:

N4DES

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
2,157
If it doesn't have type acceptance how were they using it at the CES show? That in itself was an illegal action and being they made this public the FCC should of came down on them quickly as the last time I checked Las Vegas is in their authority.

Also they stated initially that it works within an 8 foot radius, then they state it will work throughout a 3000 square foot house. Well which is it? There is a big difference between the two. I can also tell you by experience that if you put this device at altitude, like on the second story of a 2 story house or in an apartment complex it will begin to create harmful interference to others. Of course the vendors won't tell you that because they will not take the liability, like the BDA manufacturers/vendors, when the FCC comes knocking at your door.

http://www.fcc.gov/eb/FieldNotices/2003/DOC-295061A1.html

A licensee's authority to install a BDA does not permit a
subscriber to install a BDA, unless that subscriber has received explicit
authorization from the licensee to do so.


In short, radio emmissions have no limitations and if the manufacturer believes that the carrier has no authority on the spectrum inside ones home I guess the pirate radio stations can claim the same as long as the antenna is mounted in their attic space.
 

57Bill

Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2006
Messages
170
Location
Cleveland, OH
I shall purchase one of these units as soon as one becomes available, and will not seek any "authorization" to use it.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top