With AT&T Femtocell, Your Coverage Troubles Could Be Over
The incessant complaints about AT&T’s poor voice and data services could soon come to an end, though at a cost of $150.
AT&T on Wednesday announced the nationwide release of its 3G MicroCell, the company’s first femtocell. It’s a device that creates a tiny 3G data and voice signal for your personal use, eliminating AT&T’s network issues within a limited range.
Available for order today through AT&T’s website, the MicroCell acts like a mini cell tower in your home. It connects to your existing broadband internet service through an Ethernet cable, according to AT&T, and then beams out a cell signal that has a range of about 40 feet, or enough to cover most apartments and houses.
It will provide better cell-signal performance for both voice calls and cellular-data applications, such as picture messaging and web surfing, even if you’re in an area that has no AT&T coverage at all. Only devices that you authorize — up to 10 — can connect to your MicroCell.
“This will always be important for certain people whose home construction or topography makes network coverage difficult,” an AT&T spokesman told Wired.com.
The device is being offered for a one-time fee of $150; you activate it through AT&T with some self-install instructions (which include placing it near a window so it can pick up a GPS signal). The one-time pricing is good news, because when AT&T in September 2009 began consumer trials of the MicroCell in North Carolina, the trial version was being offered only in combination with a $20 monthly plan. (Paul Stamatiou reviewed a trial version of the MicroCell in November 2009.)
Customers still have the option to pay a companion rate of $20 a month for unlimited phone calls, which would give them $100 off the MicroCell. That plan would enable individuals and family-plan customers to make unlimited calls through a 3G MicroCell, without using minutes in their monthly wireless voice plan.
Since the release of the iPhone 3G, AT&T has come under fire for its patchy network performance. Wired.com in late 2008 led an independent study that revealed AT&T’s network performance was slower than networks in other countries, which suggested the AT&T network was overloaded. Later, in 2009, AT&T owned up to network issues and said it was dealing with massive traffic as a result of 3G smartphones becoming popular. A more recent study by PC World saw major improvements in AT&T’s network speeds.
Though we’re certain thousands of dissatisfied AT&T iPhone customers are going to buy one of these, we’re sure critics will still point out the fact that AT&T is requiring you to pay to improve their network service.
Product Page [AT&T]
- The Future of Femtocells: One Remote Controls All Devices
- Femtocells May Help Improve Cellular Coverage — On Your Dime
- Motorola Frames Femtocells For Homes
- Femtocell Hub Will Boost Cell Phone, Wi-FI Signals
Image courtesy of AT&T
Sunday, December 19, 2010
With AT&T Femtocell, Your Coverage Troubles Could Be Over | Gadget Lab | Wired.com