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AT&T 3G MicroCell nationwide rollout begins in mid-April

post #1 of 47
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Dead spots and connectivity issues in the home could be a thing of the past for some U.S. iPhone users next month, when AT&T begins the formal nationwide rollout of its 3G MicroCell service.

AT&T, the exclusive carrier of Apple's iPhone in the U.S., announced Wednesday that it would begin the national rollout of the 3G MicroCell in mid-April. New markets will be activated in cities across the continental U.S. over the next several months, the company said.

The nation's second-largest wireless provider revealed that there will be no additional costs, other than the purchase of the 3G MicroCell device, for using the 3G MicroCell service, as minutes used through the hardware affect the account of the phone making the call. Individual or Family talk subscribers can pay $19.99 per month to make unlimited calls through the special femtocell hardware device.

The 3G MicroCell hardware will cost $149.99, but comes with a $100 mail in rebate for customers who select a MicroCell calling plan. In addition, customers who purchase a new line of broadband service with AT&T are also eligible for a $50 mail-in rebate. Those who select both could receive the hardware for free.

The hardware blankets a 5,000 square foot area, about a 40 foot radius from the device, to provide voice, data and text service coverage in areas that might otherwise be a "dead zone" for cell phone reception. The hardware supports up to four users making simultaneous calls, and up to 10 on 3G standby available for incoming calls and messages.



Last September, Charlotte, North Carolina was the first test market for the femtocell device, which provides 3.2Mbit/sec 3G service from the home. In order to support that bandwidth, the device must be connected to an appropriately fast broadband connection.

It was expected that AT&T would expand its 3G MicroCell service to other markets in 2009, but until this week availability was limited to Charlotte. In that test, the device was said to cost $150 and carried no monthly fees.

In February, AT&T expanded its trial of the 3G MicroCell service to five markets, adding select counties in Georgia, South Carolina, San Diego and Las Vegas.
post #2 of 47
Cool. The other large providers are rolling out or have rolled out similar services. Not a big deal to me. Spectrum is a finite resource after all....
post #3 of 47
T-mobile should do the same. Their coverage is pretty spotty 'round here.

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post #4 of 47
Let me get this straight. I pay $150 for a device that allows me to use an iPhone in my house where I already have much faster wifi in my house. That makes a lot of sense? How about one for my car so I can use my phone when I can't get a good signal, like most of the time.
post #5 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by ch2co View Post

Let me get this straight. I pay $150 for a device that allows me to use an iPhone in my house where I already have much faster wifi in my house. That makes a lot of sense? How about one for my car so I can use my phone when I can't get a good signal, like most of the time.

1) Yes, objects can affect radio transmissions from penetrating effectively so this is a valuable option for many. No, AT&T shouldn't be giving these away to customers just because. (you didn't suggest that, but someone will.)

2) WiFi won't help you make and receive calls on AT&T's network.

3) For your car a cellular signal boosting antenna would work best, assuming the issue is low instead of non-existant. I'm not even sure they have omni-diractional boosters for cars, but the home-based units cost more than the MicroCell.
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post #6 of 47
I have been enjoying my 3G MicroCell since its introduction in the Charlotte test area. I live minutes from downtown Charlotte and in general have pretty good iPhone reception except at my house. (AT&T technical support indicated it is because I live at the bottom of a hill. Isn't it great that AT&T's network is so advanced that a hill can cripple it?) So much for ditching that landline...but wait--with the MicroCell I can now ditch my AT&T bungee cord.

Did it piss me off that I had to actually buy and pay for AT&T to get coverage I was already paying for? You betcha. Did it strike me as perversely bizarre that AT&T's "network" solution was to leech my bandwidth from my cable provider. You betcha. But in trying to find the good in the bad, now I can ditch my landline and position myself to kiss AT&T goodbye when Apple ends its exclusivity. Best $150 I ever spent.
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post #7 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by brownreese View Post

I have been enjoying my 3G MicroCell since its introduction in the Charlotte test area. I live minutes from downtown Charlotte and in general have pretty good iPhone reception except at my house. (AT&T technical support indicated it is because I live at the bottom of a hill. Isn't it great that AT&T's network is so advanced that a hill can cripple it?) So much for ditching that landline...but wait--with the MicroCell I can now ditch my AT&T bungee cord.

Did it piss me off that I had to actually buy and pay for AT&T to get coverage I was already paying for? You betcha. Did it strike me as perversely bizarre that AT&T's "network" solution was to leech my bandwidth from my cable provider. You betcha. But in trying to find the good in the bad, now I can ditch my landline and position myself to kiss AT&T goodbye when Apple ends its exclusivity. Best $150 I ever spent.

Hi frequency radio waves go in stright lines of sight directions mostly unless defelcted by an object, This is why there are dead spots especially in cities where buildings get in the way. Did you ever remember Long Wave radio. The longer the radio waves the eaiser it is for them to bend around objects. Before you spout of more ignorance do a little learning . Educate yourself, oh yes you are a product of the American "Education" system right that explains a lot.

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post #8 of 47
Wallet bandits.
post #9 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The nation's second-largest wireless provider revealed that there will be no additional costs, other than the purchase of the 3G MicroCell device, for using the 3G MicroCell service, as minutes used through the hardware affect the account of the phone making the call. Individual or Family talk subscribers can pay $19.99 per month to make unlimited calls through the special femtocell hardware device.

This whole concept is perverse if you have a WiFi capable smartphone such as the iPhone. Why do you need a 3G microcell? What they should really do is just route your calls over WiFi whenever that's the best route (or at least whenever you're at home). I wouldn't even mind if they charged me for minutes of conversation over my own WiFi. But to add on an extra $150 for a completely unnecessary wireless access point seems stupid!
post #10 of 47
About time. Just wish they would start supplying real pico-cells for businesses that can be coverage extenders for more than 5 phones.
post #11 of 47
This should make a lot of iPhone users happy--but isn't there an upgrade coming soon--from Apple and Verizon?
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post #12 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by NormM View Post

This whole concept is perverse if you have a WiFi capable smartphone such as the iPhone. Why do you need a 3G microcell? What they should really do is just route your calls over WiFi whenever that's the best route (or at least whenever you're at home). I wouldn't even mind if they charged me for minutes of conversation over my own WiFi. But to add on an extra $150 for a completely unnecessary wireless access point seems stupid!

Why do you people seemingly have to be hit over the head in order to grasp something new or a little different?

The microcell provides CELLULAR PHONE SERVICE to those phones to which you grant access to your microcell, and it uses the WiFi connection to link to the main AT&T cellular network. It's in advance of or in lieu of normal access to regular cellular towers.

In the majority of cases, WiFi doesn't replace the need for cellular service, at least for other people within the microcell's range who simply would like to make calls from their respective cell phones, which may very well not be iPhones, or from iPhones which don't have VoIP accounts.

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post #13 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by NormM View Post

This whole concept is perverse if you have a WiFi capable smartphone such as the iPhone. Why do you need a 3G microcell? What they should really do is just route your calls over WiFi whenever that's the best route (or at least whenever you're at home). I wouldn't even mind if they charged me for minutes of conversation over my own WiFi. But to add on an extra $150 for a completely unnecessary wireless access point seems stupid!

How would the cellular signal be configured in the handset HW and OS to travel over WiFI to the internet on every phone? Sounds to me like this would be a lot of pointless effort from the vendors, not AT&T.

How would you get a call to come in and ring and work in real time if the wireless network is congested and not setup with specific QoS for the AT&T signal? A common issue with WiFi networks, but less of an issue past the modem?

To me the MicroCell seems like a fairly inexpensive solution for a longstanding problem. I don't think it's reasonable to expect any carrier to have coverage in every place a user may possible go. If you're had your AT&T phone for more than 30 days you are well aware of how it performs in your home and you have chosen to keep it so this would be a fairly inexpensive solution for a problem that could be many, many years from resolving, and possibly even save you money as an earlier poster pointed out that he was able to cancel his landline.
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post #14 of 47
I find MicroCell, at least the pricing aspect, to be troublesome. MicroCell is unnecessary for those that get reliable reception at home. If those with unreliable reception buys this, AT&T has no incentive to fix reception for your home and possibly even made decent profit.
post #15 of 47
Now if they would work on providing coverage in the rest of the country where they don't even have Edge Service.
post #16 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by filburt View Post

I find MicroCell, at least the pricing aspect, to be troublesome. MicroCell is unnecessary for those that get reliable reception at home. If those with unreliable reception buys this, AT&T has no incentive to fix reception for your home and possibly even made decent profit.

That is a point, but there are many reason outside corporate apathy as to why an area doesn't get good cell coverage and I have to assume that many, if not most, of the people interested in this product have not been using AT&T for quite awhile at this point.
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post #17 of 47
I get 5 bars at my house, but sometimes my roommate will get a call from someone saying they've been trying to call me. Or I'll get a voicemail from way earlier. Maybe this would help me. I don't know if it's worth $150 to fix that though. Plus I may be on Verizon soon. TMobile had something like this that I tried and it sucked, so I'll wait to read the reviews.
post #18 of 47
at&t rakes in 10 billion dollars a year or more in net profit.
post #19 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

1) Yes, objects can affect radio transmissions from penetrating effectively so this is a valuable option for many. No, AT&T shouldn't be giving these away to customers just because. (you didn't suggest that, but someone will.)

2) WiFi won't help you make and receive calls on AT&T's network.

3) For your car a cellular signal boosting antenna would work best, assuming the issue is low instead of non-existant. I'm not even sure they have omni-diractional boosters for cars, but the home-based units cost more than the MicroCell.

AT&T needs to improve their service- PERIOD. Your flippant excuses for their mediocrity has no limit. We are paying a Premium for their service. If the iPhone were not on AT&T I highly doubt that you would continually be making excuses for them.
post #20 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul94544 View Post

Hi frequency radio waves go in stright lines of sight directions mostly unless defelcted by an object, This is why there are dead spots especially in cities where buildings get in the way. Did you ever remember Long Wave radio. The longer the radio waves the eaiser it is for them to bend around objects. Before you spout of more ignorance do a little learning . Educate yourself, oh yes you are a product of the American "Education" system right that explains a lot.

When suggesting that someone "educate" themselves, you might consider checking your grammar and typing - lest readers wonder about your education. Your post was nearly unintelligible.
post #21 of 47
I have the MicroCell (Charlotte) and LOVE IT! It has made a huge difference and I didn't mind paying the $150.00. I must be an anomaly.
post #22 of 47
This is great news. Now AT&T will enable tethering to your iPhone...but only when it's connected to one of these Microcell's.
post #23 of 47
AT&T is basically making their customers pay for their bad service. I live in a rural area and like a lot of other folks, the 'coverage 'map says there is 3G service in my area. I don't live in a hole or valley, I'm on a hill with clean line of site to a more urban area, but on a good day get 1 1/2 bars standing in one place in my yard. My Verizon phone has 5 bars in the middle of my house. Funny since Verizon rents tower space from AT&T in my area ( I'm a former Sprint employee) I bought a zBoost YX-510 signal amplifier for about $200 and now get 4-5 bars and 3G inside my home within 50 feet of the unit. It only amplifies signal if you have some. It can't boost no signal. Better solution for me then $149.00, $19/month and crippling my cable bandwidth. Can't wait till Verizon offers service for the iPhone. The sales will be out the roof.
post #24 of 47
The absolute nerve of this company. My contract is up this summer. When that happens, not another dime, not another penny.
post #25 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielSW View Post

Why do you people seemingly have to be hit over the head in order to grasp something new or a little different?

The microcell provides CELLULAR PHONE SERVICE to those phones to which you grant access to your microcell, and it uses the WiFi connection to link to the main AT&T cellular network. It's in advance of or in lieu of normal access to regular cellular towers.

In the majority of cases, WiFi doesn't replace the need for cellular service, at least for other people within the microcell's range who simply would like to make calls from their respective cell phones, which may very well not be iPhones, or from iPhones which don't have VoIP accounts.

Actually, this is nothing new really. AT&T loves to rip us off in increments of 10-20 bucks a month.

Yes, that's right, AT&T is not only going to charge you $150 bucks for this goodie, but to have unlimited use of it (using the WiFI YOU ALREADY PAY FOR) you must additionally pay $20 a month. (but I will admit that you do get a $100 rebate if you sign up for this scheme). The first year is $290 bucks all told with a new payment due next month.

Why does this seem like such a good deal to people? AT&T's network is so pathetic everywhere, and now they try to get us to pay EVEN MORE for the privilege to lighten the network load by routing our phone's signal through our own WiFi?

Am I the only one outraged by this audacity? I bought one and I feel like an idiot (I'm in the Charlotte test market). Don't be an idiot like me, and don't let AT&T get away with this scheme to make you pay to help lighten their network congestion problems.

Also, so you know: it uses GPS to locate itself so you can't move it from place to place (u have to use it at your registered address).

To really step it up, just get a GSM signal booster and continue slamming their network with your data and voice requests. Maybe someday they will make the correct response; improving the capacity of their sad network.

And you will save money in the long run.
post #26 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerseymac View Post

The absolute nerve of this company. My contract is up this summer. When that happens, not another dime, not another penny.

So you're going to stop using a carrier because they offer a femtocell solution for those in need?

So which company are you going to choose instead? Based on your objections...

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post #27 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

So you're going to stop using a carrier because they offer a femtocell solution for those in need?

Well, when you put it that way, AT&T seems so sweet for such a kind and generous offer!

And at only an ADDITIONAL $290 for the first year too! What an absolute steal! Add that to the $949* a year we are are already paying for "service" and we have a new grand total of $1238 a year for "service" that only sometimes works...

Could you remind me again why AT&T users are "in need" again?
Oh yeah, right....

*$949 cost based on a modest plan of $79.00/month (mine's higher)
post #28 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

So you're going to stop using a carrier because they offer a femtocell solution for those in need?

So which company are you going to choose instead? Based on your objections...
  • it can't be Verizon with their $250 Wireless Network Extender which only connects 4 devices and doesn't offer any data, just voice.
  • it can't be Sprint with their $99 AIRAVE which requires a monthly fee to use the unit and some wonky costs for each line that seem quite confusing and costly.
  • that leaves T-Mobile.

No, I'm going to stop using a carrier that has poor coverage where I live and work. I'll just go back to a verizon plain phone with an iPod classic and live without the Internet in my pocket.

What else can I do, I need a phone that makes phone calls. I would have replied sooner but I had no signal earlier.
post #29 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

So you're going to stop using a carrier because they offer a femtocell solution for those in need?

So which company are you going to choose instead? Based on your objections...
  • it can't be Verizon with their $250 Wireless Network Extender which only connects 4 devices and doesn't offer any data, just voice.
  • it can't be Sprint with their $99 AIRAVE which requires a monthly fee to use the unit and some wonky costs for each line that seem quite confusing and costly.
  • that leaves T-Mobile.

What a clever marketing ploy to make you pay them (in addition to their already overpriced service plans) so they can use your home Internet connection to improve their network coverage. Anybody want to buy a bridge in London?
post #30 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by osmosisinc View Post

Yes, that's right, AT&T is not only going to charge you $150 bucks for this goodie, but to have unlimited use of it (using the WiFI YOU ALREADY PAY FOR) you must additionally pay $20 a month. (but I will admit that you do get a $100 rebate if you sign up for this scheme). The first year is $290 bucks all told with a new payment due next month.

Enough with your FUD ruckus...

1) It has nothing to do with your WiFi, it uses your broadband cable or DSL internet connection and should be connected as close to the modem as possible.

2) There is no monthly fee for the AT&T option.

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post #31 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerseymac View Post

No, I'm going to stop using a carrier that has poor coverage where I live and work. I'll just go back to a verizon plain phone with an iPod classic and live without the Internet in my pocket.

What else can I do, I need a phone that makes phone calls. I would have replied sooner but I had no signal earlier.

You came to a forum regarding the AT&T Microcell and stated your comment with "the absolute nerve of this company". That clearly implies your issue is with this offering that other carriers have offered already, not with AT&T service in the areas you use.


Quote:
Originally Posted by toes View Post

What a clever marketing ploy to make you pay them (in addition to their already overpriced service plans) so they can use your home Internet connection to improve their network coverage. Anybody want to buy a bridge in London?

A clever marketing plot that AT&T is the last to catch up on, yet somehow it's now AT&T's fault?

BTW, speaking of London, these femtocells have exist in many other countries, too. You know, all the advanced countries with advanced cellular networks. How 'bout them Apples?
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post #32 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

So you're going to stop using a carrier because they offer a femtocell solution for those in need?

So which company are you going to choose instead? Based on your objections...


Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Enough with your FUD ruckus...

1) It has nothing to do with your WiFi, it uses your broadband cable or DSL internet connection and should be connected as close to the modem as possible.

2) There is no monthly fee for the AT&T option.


UM, do I have to scan my bills and post them for you? If you are content on allowing AT&T billing you for EVERY SINGLE VOICE MINUTE over your own internet connection then by all means, don't pay the twenty bucks.

I remind you that I live in Charlotte and had this thing.

And sorry for not using the correct terminology. Correct it needs to be BOTH next to your modem and still have a view of the sky (every power-up) for the GPS restriction.

So besides your WikiPedia reference, do you actually have any hands-on with this thing? Sounds like not.
post #33 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by osmosisinc View Post

So besides your WikiPedia reference, do you actually have any hands-on with this thing? Sounds like not.

You're right for voice there is a charge. Your previous comment about WiFi got me focused on data. Mea culpa.

I do have experience with the Verizon option which is even more money and less function. the fact remains that this is an option for those that can't otherwise get service in their homes. By saying this is the carriers trying to screw their customers over is shortsighted. If you don't like then go with a carrier than can offer you service in your home. Sometimes that's an option, often it isn't.
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post #34 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

You're right for voice there is a charge. Your previous comment about WiFi got me focused on data. Mea culpa.

I do have experience with the Verizon option which is even more money and less function. the fact remains that this is an option for those that can't otherwise get service in their homes. By saying this is the carriers trying to screw their customers over is shortsighted. If you don't like then go with a carrier than can offer you service in your home. Sometimes that's an option, often it isn't.

Actually, in Charlotte the service is pretty good without a femtocel. I got it because i thought it a strategic move to lower my minute usage during the work day. I didn't get that it was $20 for EACH PHONE to use it unlimited. So my wife and I made the total $40/month + the purchase. Needless to say, an upgrade of minutes in my plan turned out to be the much cheaper solution.

Before here I lived in Richmond, VA where the AT&T network is just awful. I also experienced awfulness in NY (but not from signal, but network congestion), and San Fransisco.

Seems to me AT&T could have relieved their network of a ton of traffic and made a positive impression on their customers (for a change) by just making this femtocell an irresistible deal. Like including unlimited use over your own internet. They had an opportunity to make up for allot with this thing, but yet they chose their typical path of greed.

That's the reason people are pissed about this. Sad, AT&T missed a great opportunity to be a hero with this thing.
post #35 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by osmosisinc View Post

Actually, in Charlotte the service is pretty good without a femtocel. I got it because i thought it a strategic move to lower my minute usage during the work day. I didn't get that it was $20 for EACH PHONE to use it unlimited.

No argument from me that $20 per phones is expensive.
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post #36 of 47
I'm missing something about this micro cell. Please correct me if i'm wrong. The range is forty feet max. So what is this going to do for me in my house unless I'm sitting in a basement or perhaps ..........

If I DO NOT have an adequate TOWER signal to begin with in my house the MICRO CELL isn't going to do anything
post #37 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by BUSHMAN4 View Post

I'm missing something about this micro cell. Please correct me if i'm wrong. The range is forty feet max. So what is this going to do for me in my house unless I'm sitting in a basement or perhaps ..........

If I DO NOT have an adequate TOWER signal to begin with in my house the MICRO CELL isn't going to do anything

1) AT&T's FAQs state 40 feet in all directions or 5000 sq ft, which doesn't make sense since 70 ft x 70 ft = 5000 sq ft. That may be a best scenario without blockage from other objects in the home, but I've seen good results from a competitor's offering, so maybe AT&T is being cautious with their range.

2) This service doesn't require an AT&T tower nearby as it bypasses it by using your broadband to go directly to their wired trunk. However, AT&T may only offer it where AT&T service is officially available so that may exclude those in areas where AT&T isn't allowed to operate.
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post #38 of 47
Has anyone tried powering it up where there is a good GPS signal and then keeping it running (perhaps with a battery) to move it to where it's needed -- away from a GPS signal? Once running, is it stable or does it need to be rebooted from time to time?
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post #39 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcarling View Post

Has anyone tried powering it up where there is a good GPS signal and then keeping it running (perhaps with a battery) to move it to where it's needed -- away from a GPS signal? Once running, is it stable or does it need to be rebooted from time to time?

Every power up it must gps lock. Once locked, it's fine. Once I had it take three hours to lock though. Seriously.
post #40 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by brownreese View Post

Isn't it great that AT&T's network is so advanced that a hill can cripple it?

Wireless technology isn't magic, it still follows the laws of physics and one of them is line of sight between you and the tower.

Everyone wants flawless cellular coverage, but no one wants cellular towers:

http://articles.sfgate.com/2008-09-1...less-companies

http://georgiazoningblog.wordpress.c...aint-pretty/

Just a few examples. You can't have it both ways. If you want coverage, you have to allow for infrastructure.

it comes down to having realistic expectations - yours that a "hill" can cripple an "advanced network" is a false dichotomy and a perfect example of unrealistic expectations.

Quote:
Did it piss me off that I had to actually buy and pay for AT&T to get coverage I was already paying for?

This I do agree with. $150 plus having to still pay for "airtime" is ridiculous. If not free, the darn things should be a heck of a lot cheaper and you should get unlimited minutes when you are on it. I imagine the minute thing is a technology problem with the billing, similar to what TMobile faced when they rolled out their microcell's with free minutes - they often wouldn't start charging when you roamed off of the microcell. Sometimes this stuff is pretty darn complicated on the back end - but I do think AT&T is handling this very poorly from a customer relations stand point.
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