AT&T 3G MicroCell to cost $150, require no monthly fees

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Users have reported AT&T's new 3G MicroCell has been test launched in the Charlotte, North Carolina market, with a $150 price tag and no required monthly fees.



A report published by GearLog answered some outstanding questions about the new device presented earlier.



Citing an AT&T representative in Charlotte, the report said the femtocell device provides 3.2Mbit/sec 3G service, which is on par with AT&T's existing towers in areas of ideal service, but not the maximum 7.2MBit/sec speed supported by the iPhone 3GS. Of course, most users won't be using the device's 3G for data, as they presumably will be using WiFi for that.



What the device will do is blanket 5,000 square feet (about a 40 foot radius from the device) of home or office space with excellent voice, text, and data service coverage to prevent dropped calls or delayed messages. SMS messages, like voice calls, require mobile data service and can't be sent over WiFi.



AT&T's device will support up to four users making simultaneous calls, and up to ten users on 3G standby available for incoming calls and messages. In order to support that bandwidth, the 3G MicroCell needs to be connected to an appropriately fast broadband connection. Typical DSL service provides 1.5Mbit/sec downloads and 0.7Mbit/sec uploads; a voice call consumes around 0.04Mbit/sec upload and download.



Cost of use



The upfront cost of AT&T's 3G MicroCell fits between Sprint's $99 Airave and Verizon's $250 Network Extender offering, although AT&T's supports fast 3G voice and data with UMTS features such as multiple party calling; Sprint and Verizon only offer relatively slow, legacy 2G CDMA2000 service.



Sprint also charges a $5 monthly "Enhanced Coverage Charge" fee just to use the Airave product, in addition to an activation fee. This makes AT&T's 3G MicroCell the cheapest option for users who just want to patch a dead service hole for their mobile, and of course the only option for iPhone users.



For $10 per month, Sprint allows unlimited calling for calls made using the device. That option will cost $20 on AT&T, but will be optional for users who want it. Verizon does not offer a "bring your own pipe" unlimited calling option at any price. Calls originated on a femtocell device are handed off to the mobile network if you leave the coverage area during the call, but remain counted against that unlimited coverage plan.



Opting for AT&T's $20 per month MicroCell unlimited calling plan is relatively expensive, costing an extra $240 over two years. However, compared with the $960 users could save by downgrading their exiting $120 unlimited mobile plan for a 900 minute, $80 contract, the option can provide a large net savings for users who place most of their calls from a single location.



AT&T's new device, which should begin being rolled out across the nation over the next several weeks, will allow users who live or work in dead spots to solve the issue themselves without waiting for AT&T's network improvement plans to reach them. That promises to help Apple's sales of the iPhone, which users in some areas have been forced to return due to specific service outages where they live or work.







The ability for users to offload traffic from AT&T's existing mobile network onto their own Internet connection for "last mile" service between their phone and AT&T's back end may also help balance the company's remaining bandwidth available to other users, effectively crowd-sourcing the problem of keeping up with the iPhone's voracious appetite for bandwidth.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 88
    AT&T is asking the customers to pay more money and use the connectivity they paid somebody else for to compensate for their shoddy network. Well done AT&T, you guys suck and you NEED to fix your network. You (AT&T) are getting a giant pile of money from iPhone users, you could, you-know, use it to improve the network you own.



    IF the network didn't suck, there would be no need for this product. Thanks for the suck...



    Sheldon
  • Reply 2 of 88
    So, in all four cases, in order to improve the cell company's service, you have to BUY a mini-tower for your home/office? Last I checked, schools rented out their light posts to cell companies so they could put cell towers on them for a few extra bucks. They wouldn't be there if it were the other way around since we all know how much money schools have (especially in my state!)



    On top of that, since it uses the internet to do its magic, one has to have a high speed internet connection (correct me if I am wrong here) which is an added cost. I'm sure the ISP is going to love the extra load on their network since AT&T can't get coverage where they should have.



    Lets add the idea that if this is used in an office or home, and most offices and homes already have a land line phone, then isn't this a little redundant? I know that call forwarding on a cell phone has been around since 2002, and you can set it to forward to another number when you are out of service areas. (I haven't checked an iPhone, but I know my old school free Nokia from 2002 had this feature).





    Anyhow, I just have a big problem with having to PAY the telco's more money for cleaning up their own coverage / bandwidth mess. (I'm not saying just AT&T here, though from what I hear around here, they are the ones with the most problems.)
  • Reply 3 of 88
    Why don't these assholes* knock 10% off people's bills' who install it? I mean, it allows anyone to connect their cell phones and 3g right? Where's sideways-head-guy to talk about this and ask us to have compassion for AT&T?













    * by assholes, I mean AT&T
  • Reply 4 of 88
    Over here in Thailand we get unlimited data plan (edge, 3g, tethering and wifi) for only $17 per month.
  • Reply 5 of 88
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stokessd View Post


    IF the network didn't suck, there would be no need for this product. Thanks for the suck...



    Sheldon



    T-Mobile and Sprint offer the same thing. So I guess 3 out of 4 networks suck. Verizon doesn't suck only because they don't have devices that pound their network. Bunch of chickens.
  • Reply 6 of 88
    So, is the $20/month fee for unlimited voice in addition to the customer's monthly iPhone voice/data plan?



    Or would this replace the user's voice/data plan, making it so they pay just $20 per month for unlimited voice (aside from the upfront $150 for the microcell and the monthly wired DSL internet fee)? Also, this is only available to AT&T DSL users, right?



  • Reply 7 of 88
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wobegon View Post


    So, is the $20/month fee for unlimited voice in addition to the customer's iPhone voice/data plan?



    Or would this replace the user's voice/data plan, making it so they pay just $20 per month for unlimited voice (aside from the upfront $150 for the microcell and wired broadband plan)?







    Its in addition to.
  • Reply 8 of 88
    5 Bars all thru out my house.....I can get this unlimited plan for $20 a month and get rid of my landline which costs $50 per month......I'm ahead by $30 a month!
  • Reply 9 of 88
    foo2foo2 Posts: 1,077member
    What's the price then for unlimited on a Family Plan? Is it $20/month add'l per handset?
  • Reply 10 of 88
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Holy shit, did everybody get smacked in the head with a two by for at the same time?



    The $20/month unlimited via the femtocell is in addition to any plan you already have. As the article points out, if you're already paying for unlimited and you run up a lot of minutes at your home or office where the device could be installed, you'd come out ahead by downgrading to a 900 minute plan.



    As far as what AT&T "should" be doing, meh. As has been pointed out, other carriers offer femtocells for local coverage and charge more, so the usual AT&T sucks mantra doesn't make much sense, in this case. Not saying there aren't legitimate grievances, but automatic unconsidered AT&T hate is foolish.



    At any rate, one time charge of $150 doesn't strike me as that onerous if I happen to live in an area with poor coverage and it gives me great coverage.



    In case we're still having trouble with reading comprehension, short of springing for unlimited, I don't have to pay any additional monthly fees after that.
  • Reply 11 of 88
    OK so I have 3 iphones, wife, daughter and of course mine. I make as many calls from work as I do at home and my daughter is in college off campus in a house and I visit her several times a month. So if I buy 3 of these units, does the $20/month cover me across all 3 units or am I looking at potentially $60 a month for my phone and $20/month for the wife and daughters phones? If its the $60 option ($20/Microcell/phone) AT&T might want to check with the Feds and see if they can add it to nationalized health care and ram it down our throats.
  • Reply 12 of 88
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    Holy shit, did everybody get smacked in the head with a two by for at the same time?



    The $20/month unlimited via the femtocell is in addition to any plan you already have. As the article points out, if you're already paying for unlimited and you run up a lot of minutes at your home or office where the device could be installed, you'd come out ahead by downgrading to a 900 minute plan.



    As far as what AT&T "should" be doing, meh. As has been pointed out, other carriers offer femtocells for local coverage and charge more, so the usual AT&T sucks mantra doesn't make much sense, in this case. Not saying there aren't legitimate grievances, but automatic unconsidered AT&T hate is foolish.



    At any rate, one time charge of $150 doesn't strike me as that onerous if I happen to live in an area with poor coverage and it gives me great coverage.



    In case we're still having trouble with reading comprehension, short of springing for unlimited, I don't have to pay any additional monthly fees after that.



    Yay, some one who isn't stupid!!!
  • Reply 13 of 88
    Why not free unlimited SMS? Should it not be treated like voice on the MicroCell? What's the difference?



    I know - SMS pricing was bogus without the MicroCell -- so there's no reason it shouldn't be bogus pricing with it too.
  • Reply 14 of 88
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    I disagree with the people that think it should be free. Don’t get me wrong, I think that AT&T is making out like bandits to get the consumer to pay for a device that not only gives the customer service but will also alleviate activity on their network; I just don’t think that it’s logistically feasible to give it away to anyone that wants it as people who don’t need it will get one, thus abusing the system and likely reducing supply to those that really do need it.



    I think that AT&T should require a deposit for the device and then reimburse a small amount off their bill each month for its use or just hold the deposit in an interest yielding account until the device is returned to them.
  • Reply 15 of 88
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wobegon View Post


    So, is the $20/month fee for unlimited voice in addition to the customer's monthly iPhone voice/data plan?



    Or would this replace the user's voice/data plan, making it so they pay just $20 per month for unlimited voice (aside from the upfront $150 for the microcell and the monthly wired DSL internet fee)? Also, this is only available to AT&T DSL users, right?









    Well I may consider this after I get a Upgrade from Comcast to Extreme 50 where I get 50Mbps Downloads and 10Mbps Uploads. I get this after that then AT&T Unlimited that's $100 plus $30 for Data then $20 for Unlimited text and now $20 MicroCell Tower. I get it just gotta make money. All of this is a bit much to have a phone service with a iPhone 3GS. I don't have a home phone I use my cell for everything so yeah I will get this.
  • Reply 16 of 88
    http://www.wireless.att.com:80/learn/why/3gmicrocell/



    This is very nice for those of us where signals are blocked by natural (or man made) barriers.
  • Reply 17 of 88
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    Ok... so when does the rest of the country get this? I'm tired of having to crawl up onto the roof to make a call.
  • Reply 18 of 88
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iansilv View Post


    Why don't these assholes* knock 10% off people's bills' who install it? I mean, it allows anyone to connect their cell phones and 3g right? Where's sideways-head-guy to talk about this and ask us to have compassion for AT&T?













    * by assholes, I mean AT&T



    Actually from what I read yesterday about MicroCell on Engadet I believe, other people will be blocked out from using your MicroCell which makes sense because your neighbors could jump on your MicroCell all the time, potentially blocking you out from using it, while eating up your internet bandwidth at the same time.



    This might end up being quite popular in my household if the unlimited calling on the MicroCell includes overseas calls (which I doubt).
  • Reply 19 of 88
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iphonedeveloperthailand View Post


    Over here in Thailand we get unlimited data plan (edge, 3g, tethering and wifi) for only $17 per month.



    Yeah but Thai women are really beautiful! So...



    yeah I got nothing...



  • Reply 20 of 88
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iphonedeveloperthailand View Post


    Over here in Thailand we get unlimited data plan (edge, 3g, tethering and wifi) for only $17 per month.



    Another good reason to move to Thailand.
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