Verizon Wireless is set to introduce a femtocell for retail sale later this month, selling for $250. Verizon named the unit descriptively; it’s calling it the Wireless Network Extender.

The unit was described in documents filed with the FCC, according to Engadget. It will be based on the same Samsung technology employed by Sprint in its AiRave femtocell. Both Sprint and Verizon have CDMA-based cellular networks.

Verizon Wireless’ femtocell is expected to provide 5,000 square feet of coverage. It will incorporate GPS components so that the unit can be de-activated if someone attempts to use it outside of the U.S.

The unit is scheduled to become commercially available on Jan. 25.

Subscribers plug femtocells into an Ethernet port in any computer already enabled with a standard broadband connection to extend cellular wireless coverage in their homes or businesses, akin to the way they can extend the reach of their broadband service with a wireless Wi-Fi router.

The benefit for the cellular service provider is that in all cases, when subscribers use femtocells, backhaul is shifted from the cellular network (cellular backhaul tends to be overburdened and expensive) to subscribers’ broadband networks.

Subscribers gain the potential for getting better cell phone coverage, but that assumes that they don’t already have acceptable cell coverage.

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