Nextivity, a San Diego-based tech firm, has developed technology they say will alleviate the problem of poor indoor cell phone coverage.
The firm’s Cel-Fi family of signal boosters promises to “eliminate indoor dead zones” for the more than half of mobile customers in the U.S. experience dropped calls or otherwise poor service in their home or office.
Similar but less sophisticated boosters installed by mobile subscribers have traditionally been significant sources of interference. Werner Sievers, chief executive of Nextivity, has said that companies like “AT&T and Verizon [have] engineers in trucks rolling around cities trying to find these pirate transmitters because they create so much interference.”
Nextivity seems to have found a solution to this problem, however. Josh Lonn, senior director of marketing at T-Mobile, has said that the firm’s design “is intelligent”, “[sensing] when there is increased transmit power from the network, and [reducing] interfering transmissions from itself.”
T-Mobile and Nextivity worked together with the FCC to develop updated regulatory guidelines allowing the deployment of consumer signal boosters on mobile networks.
AT&T and T-Mobile will be amongst the first large telecommunications companies to distribute the units to their subscribers under the new regulatory paradigm.
Nextivity also distributes its signal boosters in Canada, most notably through the Rogers, TELUS, and Bell Canada networks.
The boosters are becoming popular with providers, as they help them prevent customers from switching to a different service, and increase their voice and data usage. However, there are alternatives that have been on the market for a while. One brand, Wilson Amplifiers, is an industry leader and its cell signal boosters can be bought from its site wilsonamplifiers.com.
While Nextivity sells Cell-Fi products to the public directly, it is through providers that they generate the majority of their sales. “Our initial thesis and value proposition was to target mobile through them,” said Sievers in a comment to ChannelBuzz.
Aside from the obvious challenge of developing signal boosters with minimal interference issues, Nextivity also had to deal with “picky” mobile service providers with highly specific needs and wants.
Ultimately, the firm was only able to overcome this hurdle by developing its own proprietary semiconductor technology.
Investors such as Founders Fund, ACP Capital, and KCP Capital funded much of this research. Nextivity also received technological support from partner firms such as Anadigics.