is notorious for poor service quality in some of its service areas.
While poor reception might be forgivable in mostly rural areas where
the environment makes cellular towers hard to install and cuts range,
some of AT&T's highly publicized network issues are in major
cities.In September of 2009, an Apple Genius in a store in
New York City famously told a customer that 30%
dropped calls were normal. AT&T knows that reception can be
an issue in some areas and is making efforts to fix the network. One
of the ways that AT&T hopes to improve the network for customers
is by getting users to adopt femcells.The AT&T Microcell
femtocell is now available
to any AT&T customer. The Microcell takes the user's mobile
phone call and routes it across their broadband network rather than
over the AT&T wireless network. The catch with femtocells is that
the customer has to purchase the hardware device and pay more each
month to use it. This has made the devices unpopular with many
consumers who feel that the femtocell makes them pay again for
network coverage they are already paying for.Another
significant issue with the AT&T Microcell is that data usage on
the 3G network conducted when connected to a Microcell will still
count towards the monthly data use of the user. AT&T claims that
this is because all 3G data eventually goes across the AT&T
backend.AT&T has also completed
the transition of assets that it purchased from Alltel in 79
different service areas ranging across 18 states. The purchase of the
assets cost AT&T $2.35 billion and was part of the approval
Verizon received to purchase Alltel. Most of the new coverage is in
rural areas where Alltel operated. Customers whose networks have
transitioned to AT&T will not have to purchase a new device
according to the company.
Update: Wednesday June 23, 2010 11:35 p.m.-
AT&T contacted us late today and chatted a bit about the Microcell. Their spokesperson gave this additional info on the product:
As background, a 3G Microcell functions as a miniature cell tower, and data transmitted using the Microcell uses our core wireless network just like a call placed while driving down the highway uses the core wireless network. The only difference is how that data or call gets there – via a MicroCell connected to a wired broadband connection instead of a cell tower. As a result, data and voice usage on a Microcell access point are billed according to the users’ plan.
3G MicroCell is primarily intended to enhance the voice call quality experience in your home. While it can carry mobile data traffic, that’s not the primary solution it provides.Microcells require you have a wired broadband connection and our surveys show that around 96% of our Microcell users have a Wi-Fi router, as well. Wi-Fi is the optimal solution for home mobile data use. We encourage people to take advantage of Wi-Fi capabilities. That’s why all of our smartphones include Wi-Fi radios, and usage on Wi-Fi doesn’t count against your mobile data usage bucket if you have one of our new data plans.
quote: 3G MicroCell is primarily intended to enhance the voice call quality experience in your home. While it can carry mobile data traffic, that’s not the primary solution it provides.