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Sprint is asking customers to place these ugly 'Magic Boxes' in their homes to improve its network

  • Sprint Magic Box will improve cell and data coverage
  • Sprint wants customers to place the shoebox-size boxes in their homes and offices
  • Each box covers 30,000 square feet
  • Sprint says the boxes will help it save costs on building its network backhaul

Sprint said Wednesday it's going to boost wireless coverage around the United States by giving businesses and consumers a "Magic Box."

The Sprint Magic Box is about the size of a shoe box and will be available for free. The box is capable of increasing download and upload speeds by up to 200 percent within areas of 30,000 square feet, Sprint said.

That may sound compelling if you don't have good coverage, but Sprint's plan also sounds a bit selfish: The upgrade won't require the company to invest more in cell towers or other heavy-duty technology.

Other carriers have tried similar approaches, though for different reasons.

T-Mobile offers customers a Personal CellSpot, which boosts the signal of its network where it doesn't work very well. Verizon and AT&T also offer micro cells to boost coverage where a customer needs an extra push, like at a vacation cabin in the woods.

With the Magic Box, Sprint is asking that customers essentially help create the expansion by placing ugly white boxes in their homes. If nobody wants these boxes, Sprint's expansion will fail.

Sprint Magic Box
Sprint

The Magic Box is rolling out first in Denver, San Francisco, Indianapolis, New York, Chicago and Houston.