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Verizon Network Extender Review

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Verizon Network Extender Review
Verizon Network Extender Review
Despite the ever-growing population of cellular towers, there are still wireless customers that feel left out, as they get poor signal reception in their home or office.  Because of this, Femtocell was invented, which basically is a miniature cell tower that you can setup in your home or office.  Last year we reviewed the Sprint version, called the AIRAVE, and now Verizon has released their Network Extender, which is almost identical.  The main difference between the two is that the AIRAVE cost $99 for the hardware, plus $4.99 monthly access fee, with the option of unlimited calling for an additional $10 (single plan) or $20 (family plan) per month.  The Network Extender cost $249 for the hardware and there is no monthly access fee, but doesn’t offer unlimited calling.  This means that customers will continue to use their plan minutes while using the Network Extender.





Verizon Network Extender Review
Verizon Network Extender Review
Verizon Network Extender Review

The device is pretty straightforward to set-up, as it can connect to a router or directly to a cable modem via CAT5e Ethernet cable.  We would like to have seen it connect wirelessly to our router via Wi-Fi (in similar fashion as the Verizon Hub), but that is not an option.  Once connected, it takes about 15 minutes for it to become operational, and there are four lights (Power, SYS, GPS, and WAN) that will eventually turn Blue to indicate it’s ready for use.  Just like with the AIRAVE, there is a built-in GPS receiver that limits its use to only the U.S. and also provides your location to E911.  The manual recommends placing the Network Extender near a window so that it can lock on the GPS signal.  But in those instances where the GPS light stays Red and cannot find a signal, there is a 23-foot extension cable that will allow you to remove the GPS module and place it closer to a window.  In out testing, we did not need to use the extension cable, as it was placed only a few feet from a window.

Verizon Network Extender Review
Verizon Network Extender Review
Verizon Network Extender Review

GPS module - Verizon Network Extender Review
With extension cable - Verizon Network Extender Review
Verizon Network Extender Review

GPS module

With extension cable

 

In order to have a phone initially connect (or pair) to the Network Extender, it is recommended to be within 15 feet, but we were able to connect up to 50 feet away.  You verify your connection by dialing #48 on your phone and listening to the recording, but there is also a double-beep heard in the earpiece when a call is placed.  Up to three phones can be connected to the Extender at once, with a fourth channel left open for E911 use.  By default, it will allow any Verizon phone access (within range), but you can limit the access to only certain phones by going to the My Verizon site and entering up to 50 phone numbers.  If your neighbors happen to be Verizon Wireless customers, and could possibly connect to the Extender, this is an ideal situation to restrict the access to only your phones.  After our Motorola V9m was powered up and did a quick "searching for service", we saw that it was getting 4 solid bars, instead of the usual 2.  We initially tested it in our house on both floors (1500 sq ft) and were able to stay connected.  From there we were still able to use it outside and even in our next-door neighbor’s house.  Call quality was excellent and sounded as good, if not slightly better than when using the local cell tower.  In fact, we also noticed that the volume level was louder.  If you place a call while using the Extender, then move too far out of range, the call will automatically transfer to a local tower (if there is one available).  However, if you place a call elsewhere and then come back into range of the Extender, the call will not transfer to it.  EVDO for data is not supported, so if your phone can’t pick up a local EVDO signal, it will only connect at 1x speeds.

The Extender claims a 5000 sq ft operating range, but when factoring in walls and other structures, we found the real world range to be closer to 3000 sq ft.  Also, since the Network Extender is much closer to your phone than a traditional cell tower, the phone uses less power to receive and transmit, thus providing increased battery time.  When going into the service menu of our LG Versa, it showed that the signal while using the Network Extender was –50, where the standard signal in our home from the local tower is –85 (closer to 0 is better).

After using the Network Extender with different phones for over a week, we are generally pleased with the range and call quality it provides.  Though we wouldn’t need to purchase one our self, since we’re only a few miles from a traditional cell tower, customers who experience problems picking up a signal at home will greatly benefit from this device.  The only two features we found missing was EVDO Rev 0/A for data and that it can’t connect via Wi-Fi to a router. 

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Excellent reception and call quality
  • Improved phone’s battery time
  • No monthly access fee

Cons

  • More expensive than the AIRAVE
  • Uses calling plan minutes
  • Lacks EVDO for data
  • Must use a cable to connect to a router
PhoneArena rating:
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28 Comments
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posted on 20 Oct 2010, 01:55

1. mikeaud44 (Posts: 30; Member since: 05 Dec 2008)


Proofread for spelling errors much?

posted on 04 Mar 2009, 09:58

2. filteroff (Posts: 34; Member since: 18 Feb 2009)


I really don't see why they had to make this Network Extender eat your minutes from your plan... If I was in Verizon's shoes I would have made this a simple extender without eating your minutes from your plan. This way you can advertise to all folks that if Verizon didn't work for you (lets say in your basement) you can always pick this little gadget and get it going no matter where you are. I bet it would pull more customers in... But then again... its only me...

posted on 04 Mar 2009, 22:11

3. brikz4real (Posts: 173; Member since: 24 Dec 2008)


What you have to realize is that this is only an extension of the network....NOT your plan. If you have a 450 minute Select plan, you will still have 450 minutes when you purchase a Network Extender. It's not the HUB...it's not supposed to have anything to do with wireless service outside of pulling a signal into your home. Your VZW to VZW minutes are still free...as are your nites and weekends. This accessory does nothing but allow you to have a signal where you otherwise wouldn't .... THAT'S IT!!!

posted on 05 Mar 2009, 12:50

5. filteroff (Posts: 34; Member since: 18 Feb 2009)


My understanding from the article above is that it will eat your minutes during the nights and weekends...

posted on 06 Mar 2009, 06:44

6. brikz4real (Posts: 173; Member since: 24 Dec 2008)


I talked to VZW rep earlier. He said, "No...it will only use minutes in accordance with your plan".

posted on 05 Mar 2009, 11:28

4. durham4556 (Posts: 1; Member since: 05 Mar 2009)


if they had this for at&t i woudl buy it in a second

posted on 18 Jan 2011, 10:24

24. CriSki (unregistered)


AT&T has had the MicroCell out for over a year:http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/why/3gmicrocell/

posted on 14 Mar 2009, 09:42

7. SilverPearl (Posts: 31; Member since: 08 Jul 2008)


This product didn't work in our store location... couldn't establish a GPS connection. Could have been a defective unit or maybe it's our building... we'll probably try it at each of our homes to verify, though.

posted on 25 Mar 2009, 12:36

8. jgerboc (Posts: 18; Member since: 17 Jan 2009)


I just received one yesterday. I live in a valley along Lake Erie. The cell tower is only 3 miles away but, due to the topography, I get 1 bar intermittently in my driveway. For over 8 years I have begged VZW for help. What a device! Installation was as if developed by Apple. Waited 20 minutes for a GPS link. Checked for 4 blue lights. Went to my phone and had 4-5 bars. Really cool! The only extremely slight negative is that there seems to be a VERY slight delay in voice. At first I thought a couple conversations were just ackward, but it may be a delay. I will ask customer service and re-post.

posted on 01 Oct 2009, 20:38

9. scooter (Posts: 1; Member since: 01 Oct 2009)


We have 0 to 1 bars in our area. We used to have 3 bars in our home. VZW done something that killed our service. They told me to purchase a Network Extender. The extender is working but none of our 4 (different) phones will pair to it. Vzw tech support has no answers. They have no knowlege about their product. Waiting patiently for engineers to get back with me. They don't get in any hurry. When one does pair it will only last about 30 seconds.

posted on 07 Oct 2009, 07:56

10. ChewableC (Posts: 1; Member since: 07 Oct 2009)


Verizon is misleading its customers, as I had the same problem as "Scooter" did (above): about 4 months ago, my in-apartment signal went from perfect all the time to wildly fluctuating, dropping almost half the calls longer than 2 minutes. While this happens most often in my apartment, it also occurs in the middle of the city (I am in NYC), and I have just put out my 2nd trouble ticket on this, and, yes, all I hear is that Verizon doesn't guarantee indoor coverage, technicians find nothing wrong in my area and that I should blow $250 on a Network Extender!! Could there be a more transparent plot to get us to buy this thing? Cut off our service and come out with this product all at once?! Verizon knows I will switch to AT&T if they do not restore their old, reliable service; they are essentially breaking my 2-year contract agreement by not providing the quality service that prompted me to sign-on in the first place.

posted on 25 Feb 2010, 19:28

15. sfes786 (Posts: 1; Member since: 25 Feb 2010)


agree 100% "can you hear me know" is complete BS, and "your network goes where you go" is utter misleading. I live in Manhattan and I can't "hear you now" thanks to verizon for offering me a choice to fork over more money to get extender. anyway. hope it works. somebody needs to drag them to the court. It would be nice if verizon mentions in it's billions of dollars of adds that "we don't gurantee service". You all living in remote hidden areas out of reach, don't feel bad, I live in freakin Manhattan and I hear there F***ing excuses, oh maybe there is a pillar in the way of the tower or maybe the design of your building etc etc etc.

posted on 01 Sep 2010, 14:50

19. Farmkibbles (unregistered)


Here is something that y'all may find useful. I had issues with Verizon a few years ago when I left Alabama and moved to northern Kentucky near Cincinasty Ohio. Verizon stadium in Cincinasty would have games and all my friends and I would get a "Tower Busy Try Your Call Again Later" ditch dialer when we placed a call. I called Verizon customer assistance (*611). I spoke with a lady who told me "There is no reported outages in your area. You need to take your phone to a Verizon store or retry your call like the msg said." I am not one to get mouthy unless I know what I am talking about so I got on line and looked uphttp://www.gao.gov/new.items/d03501.pdf The FCC says the mobile carrier can not hold you in contract or charge for its termination if you drop more than so many calls OR if you move to an area the FCC has decided your carrier has nadequate coverage. In short I got my box for free as well as 6 months of free unlimited service when I called back and asked for a supervisor, and then again for their supervisor who verizon will tell you is not located in that building. Once these steps are followed you can file a complaint with the better business bureau online for free. I promise you fast results! If this box is NEEDED then you can exit the contract or get it free in most cases. Free is good.

posted on 02 Nov 2009, 16:27

11. alandlord (Posts: 1; Member since: 02 Nov 2009)


I negotiated the price of the Verizon network extender down to $100 plus tax. It works like crap. I have great signal strength, but constant interference after it has been on for a while,. to the point of calls being totally garbelled. They claim they are looking into my problem. Perhaps I have a bad unit. They had me buy a new router as they claim there are four routers that do not work with it, but this solved nothing. We will see, but for now it is useless to me.

posted on 10 Nov 2009, 23:24

12. 6string55 (Posts: 1; Member since: 10 Nov 2009)


Send that junk back to VERIZON mine is doing the same thing I have had it with VERIZON every since they add all-tel they suck worst then they already did I called them AND I am sending My garbled piece of junk back TOMORROW and if you all have any brains you will do the same they should not be any reason why we cant get the signal we already pay for with out the run around we live in cities not the Boony's

posted on 15 Nov 2009, 22:42

13. fizad99 (Posts: 1; Member since: 15 Nov 2009)


Alandlord, how did you negotiate the price down to 100? i want to get it but 200 is out of my range.. ??

posted on 28 Nov 2009, 14:59

14. pcbeingme (Posts: 1; Member since: 28 Nov 2009)


Same problem here in the middle of the city of Minneapolis. Something happened with the towers - competitors? during the last few years. It got significantly worse in the last few months. I got the extender for free after contacting the corporate offices, and many trouble tickets. The response is that they admitted service is 'poor' in my area; I checked the map and there is no dedicated tower in the neighborhood. We are by city lakes and I don't know if that makes a difference. I now have the option of terminating my family plan with 3 lines, at no cost, provided I send back the extender. Fine with me. If I were to bill Verizon for the amount of time spent on these issues they would owe me a lot of money!

posted on 15 Apr 2010, 09:42

16. Mainer82 (Posts: 1; Member since: 15 Apr 2010)


I fail to see how connecting an Ethernet cable into the device is a "con". It's not very difficult to run CAT5/6 cable in wall and even easier outside of the wall.

posted on 21 Aug 2010, 12:32

17. JK (unregistered)


I live in Upton, MA and I am on-call 24-7 for my job. I used to have to carry an archaic pager since cell phone service was non-existent in my area and the local tree-huggers kept denying any attempt for new towers in the town. I came across the VZ Network Extender and decided to give it a shot. I was skeptical but was happily proven wrong. I plugged it in and in about 20 minutes I was using my cell phone at home. The price was steep at $149 ($249 w/$100 rebate) but getting rid of the pager and the monthly cost is well worth it. Keep the unit as close to a window as possible so the GPS locks on quickly. If you can't get cell service give it a shot.

posted on 28 Aug 2010, 11:37

18. apc716 (unregistered)


This is an absolutely amazing and wonderful piece of hardware that works EXACTLY as advertised. I just moved to a new apartment in SF that is located in perhaps the only spot in the Bay Area without great Verizon coverage. I went from frequently losing calls, and tajing forever to get a dial tone, to 5 Bar performance. I located the base station as suggested, connected everything up as in "quick start" manual, and in 10 miutes the system activated itself and produced perfect service. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

posted on 09 Sep 2010, 15:58

20. MT (unregistered)


My husband and I forked over the money for the network extender so we could use our cell phones in our house and drop our landline. BIG MISTAKE. The thing is a joke. It is always losing the network signal. And when I call Verizon they tell me to unplug the extender and reset the modem and router. Such a pain. And then it never fixes the problem. I've also called many times to have them tell me that there is a network outage and they are working to fix the problem. It's not really what they advertise since you're still on a network of theirs that goes down at random. And they don't know what's wrong with mine. The system light has been flashing red for a week now and no one at Verizon has any idea how the box works. We're really regretting our decision to drop the landline in favor of this junk.

posted on 28 Oct 2010, 12:11

21. cmercado (unregistered)


I had my extender for about 6 months and my bars went from 1 to 4. If it uses my minutes, I don't care because without the extender I wouldn't be able to use my minutes since I could'nt get any good signal to make call

posted on 16 Jan 2011, 13:47

22. Don (unregistered)


I can not get the extender to connect over my T1 business internet service. I took the unit home to test it and no problem connecting over my home DSL. Has anyone had the same problem?

posted on 16 Jan 2011, 15:16

23. Wes (unregistered)


The Femotcell unit would be great for people who live or work in remote areas with absolutely no Verizon service available, but good access to broadband internet. But, there may be another option to consider for many users.

However, in most areas of the United States, you can get at least a weak signal from a Verizon tower. In this case a cellular repeater may help. Wilson Electronicswww.wilsonelectronics.com sells a variety of them. I am not endorsing them nor have I used thier products. But I think this would be worth considering.

A cell phone repeater uses an antenna on the outside of a building of near a window and another antenna inside the building or home. The repeater boosts the strength of the signal from the tower going to your phone and vise versa. This should theoretically work both in a dense city environment a well as a rural area that is far from a cell tower. In a city, massive steel and concrete structures bock cellular signals. Out in the country, the distance to the tower is the problem. A repeater should help in both cases. If anyone has experience with a cellular repeater, please post about your experience.

posted on 22 Mar 2011, 10:29

25. Kyle (unregistered)


We cannot get the device to connect from our business just like you Don. Take it home and don't have any trouble connecting the device from home. Verizon has no idea why it won't work...

posted on 28 Aug 2011, 15:29

26. Port (unregistered)


I don't know what you guys are talking about because the network extended has been amazing for me! I get 5 bars of pure quality service, I used to get no service and now 5, bravo Verizon!

posted on 09 Oct 2011, 14:53

27. Mike015pgh (unregistered)


if it is not working in a business situation but is at a home one. you may need to check with the system admin and verizon on what ports are needed to be opened on the firewall.

I have a unit simular to a willson repeater. It does work though it is limited by how good the signal outside. if you have 3+ bars outside they can help. if not they will be of very limited benefit. If this was available when I bought my repeater I would have gone with this as it gets its signal directly from the provider. Also the repeater I have is not provider specific it will work with any provider that uses its designed frequency. the verizon unit will only work with verizon.

http://www.amazon.com/Wireless-Extenders-YX545-Dual-Band-Booster/dp/B003VOW5WI/ref=sr_1_2?s=wireless&ie=UTF8&qid=1318189422&sr=1-2

posted on 28 Jun 2012, 17:23

29. lanes (Posts: 1; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)


I live in a remote place. I can barely get one bar. Trouble is no one offers any broadband or dsl. Only satellite. If am I reading correctly this means I can NOT use the phone network extender because you have too hook up to broadband or dsl. Are there any options to boost a cell phone signal (Verizon) with this situation?

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