MicroCell

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AT&T Microcell draining batteries?

Is the AT&T Microcell sucking the life out of your Windows Phone batteries? Apparently there are a few Windows Phone owners who believe so.

For those not familiar, AT&T's Microcell is a gadget that picks up your cellular signal and carries it over your local internet service. It is designed for households and businesses that are in poor reception areas.

A short discussion has developed over at AT&T with one commenter stating with the microcell plugged in his battery drain on his Samsung Focus S is in the neighborhood of 15-20% per hour. Unplug the microcell and the battery drain pulls back to about 1% over two hours.

Now we are not certain if those complaining are using their microcell for data or connecting to their wifi internet network. If they are relying on the microcell for data, that could contribute to the increase drain.  But not knowing for certain, this is only a guess.  Personally, I've had an AT&T Microcell since day one (without it I only have half a bar of coverage at the house) and have yet to notice any increase in battery drain on any of the phones in the house.

AT&T hasn't commented on this issue and if there is a bug with some of the microcells, hopefully it can be addressed quickly. Curious, has anyone experience faster battery drain rates when your Windows Phone is connected to the microcell?

Source: AT&T; Thanks, Ronald, for the tip!

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Wasn't it just the other day it was leaked that AT&T was raising the cost of their 3G Microcells from $149.99 to $199.99? Well today's another day and it's now being reported that beginning January 23, 2011 that AT&T will be giving the Microcell away to a pre-selected group of customers.

AT&T will conduct a direct mailing to 7.5% of 3G wireless customers identified as likely to experience poor in-building coverage at home or in small offices. Those lucky 7.5% will have to accept an equipment agreement that will extend their wireless contract for 12 months. If service is canceled before the end of 12 months, the Microcell goes back to AT&T or the customer is subject to a prorated (-$16.97 per month) equipment fee.

For those not familiar with the Microcell, it is designed to function in the same way as a cell tower, but utilizes a home broadband connection as the back-haul to the cellular provider.  AT&T made a similar offer last summer but it was in select markets.  This go around, the mail out will be nationwide. There is no indication as to how the 7.5% will be selected or how AT&T will determine who has poor reception. 

I wonder if you can get a refund if you get the Microcell offer but had already purchased one?

Source: Engadget

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Yesterday we heard that Sprint will begin charging a premium fee for smartphone data and today, it's AT&T's turn to tweak their prices a bit. Leaked policy outlines from AT&T indicate that messaging plans, upgrade discounts and Microcell pricing are all about to change.

In an effort to help "streamline offers for customers and help our (AT&T) reps be more efficient" (AT&T's words not ours) the following changes will become effective January 23, 2011.

Check out all the changes after the break...

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Verizon has updated it's Network Extender to offer 3G data coverage. Earlier models offers slower data connections but the updated version allows you to surf the web, download applications, send/receive text messages, and check your email at five bars of 3G speed.

The Samsung network extender will cost you $249.99 and provides up to 40 feet of coverage. There is no additional monthly charge for using the Verizon Wireless 3G Network Extender. According to the FAQ Section on Verizon's website,

"There are no additional costs to use just the Network Extender. You can simply purchase the unit and enjoy the benefit of enhanced in-home coverage. All rates and policies associated with your chosen calling plan will apply when connected to the Network Extender."

Which is a round about way of saying that the data and voice calls made through your Network Extender will eat into your package minutes and data plan.

If you live in an area that has poor coverage, these extenders are worth every penny. You can find out more about the Network Extender at Verizon and follow the break for the full presser.

via AndroidCentral

 

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AT&T gifting Microcells?

AT&T wireless customers are getting complimentary Microcells? It sounded too good to be true but we were seeing reports over the weekend that AT&T was handing out the Microcells to a  few fortunate AT&T customers.  Apparently, letters were sent out thanking customers for their patronage and invited them to the local AT&T store for a FREE 3G Microcell. 

Speculation as to why AT&T was giving away free Microcells ranged from an attempt to retain customers with soon to expire contracts to attracting iPhone customers to stick around in light of the persistent rumors another carrier will get the iPhone.

Curious as to how one would go about getting on such a mailing list, we received an official statement from AT&T that reads,

"AT&T's 3G Microcell is designed for the very small percentage of our customers who have wireless voice coverage challenges inside their home. While the product is now available to customers nationwide, we are conducting trials in two markets on the most effective way to introduce this product to customers for whom it was designed."

Just as with the initial trials, it appears that these lucky customers are simply part of a marketing research group. No conspiracy to get contracts renewed or entice iPhone owners to stick around, just marketing research.  Regardless of the reasoning, the free Microcell does serve as a nice bonus (it works like a charm) for those who received the letter.

Update: Just got word from AT&T that the free Microcells are being sent out on a very limited basis.  According to the revised statement, "AT&T's 3G Microcell is designed for the very small percentage of our customers who have wireless voice coverage challenges inside their home. While the product is now available to customers nationwide, we are conducting very limited trials on the most effective way to introduce this product to customers for whom it was designed."  Not much new with the updated statement other than the odds of getting a free Microcell just greatly reduced.

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43

Review: AT&T 3G Microcell

The AT&T Microcell went into test markets a little over a year ago and has been slowly rolling out the units nationwide earlier this year. In a nutshell, the Microcell uses your broadband/high speed internet access to connect your phone to the AT&T network. The result is having five bars of reception where you may have none.

There's been some criticism over AT&T Microcell polices that has overshadowed what the Microcell brings to the table. Some do not agree that AT&T should charge minutes and data used through the Microcell against your package minutes or data. There are also concerns that the hardware is priced too high.

While these concerns have merit, if you are in a location that has poor reception, the Microcell is a welcomed sight. The Microcell rolled out to my area recently and having poor signal coverage at the house, I jumped at the opportunity to get five bars of coverage.

Follow the break for more details on the installation of the Microcell and how it performs.

UPDATE: There is some relief for those concerned about the price. AT&T is currently offering a $100 mail-in rebate on the Microcell. The one catch (and you knew there would be a catch) is that you have to sign up for the unlimited voice package ($20 a month) to be eligible for the rebate.

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AT&T's Microcell is slowly rolling out nationwide adding more cities here and there. The microcell itself will run you about $150 and we know that customers can use package minutes with the microcell. AT&T subscribers can also purchase unlimited minutes through the microcell for an additional $20 a month.

We are now finding out that with the recent changes to AT&T's data packages, any data used through the microcell will go against a customer's monthly data package.  Back in the good old days when everyone had unlimited data, this never developed into an concern.  Now that AT&T has put limits on data packages, it may become one for some. 

According to an AT&T spokesperson who spoke with us:

A 3G Microcell functions as a miniature cell tower, and data transmitted using the Microcell uses the 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 broadband connection versus via a cell tower. As a result data and voice consumed through that access point are billed according to the users’ plan.

While the microcell will double as a data and voice solution it was primarily intended to be a voice solution for those areas with weak coverage. The optimal data solution likely remains to be wi-fi and nowadays is just about standard on all Windows Phones.  Using wi-fi for data downloads won't go against your data package. Granted, not everyone has a wireless network in their home and while the microcell can be a dual solution, just remember it's use will go against both your package allotments.

Then again lets be honest, we are now doing some of the work for AT&T by using our own data-for-data, unloading the stress on their towers--seems odd and sneaky to be penalized. On the other hand, AT&T has a leg up on competition as Sprint doesn't even offer 3G coverage via their AirRave. Thoughts?

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AT&T Microcell Update

 

Are you waiting patiently for the AT&T Microcell to come to your neighborhood? It was announced last month that a nation wide roll out would begin for the microcell and slowly but surely, AT&T is increasing its availability.

Over the past few weeks, the microcell has become available in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, New York (upstate area), Fresno, Sacramento, San Francisco, New England, Chicago, North Texas and all of North Carolina.  You can visit ATT.com, enter your zip code under the "availability" tab and find out for certain if the microcell is available in your area.

The microcell itself will run about $150 and if you want to have unlimited minutes included, it will cost you an additional $19.99 a month.  Otherwise, using the microcell will feed off your existing package minutes.

While the gradual roll-out can be painstakingly slow, for those of us dealing with only one bar of coverage, the microcell should be worth the wait. I just wonder how long it will take to break the habit of going to the one window in the house that offers two bars of coverage whenever I use my Windows Phone.

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AT&T Moves Ahead with 3G Microcells

AT&T today announced plans to roll out their 3G Microcells nationwide starting in mid-April. The Microcell (otherwise known as a femtocell) is designed to function in the same way as a cell tower, but utilizes a home broadband connection as the back-haul to the cellular provider. AT&T is pushing the 3G Microcell as a solution for those who get little or no cellular signal while at home.

In addition to the Microcell hardware, AT&T is announcing a companion rate option for $19.99 per month that will give Microcell owners unlimited calls through the 3G Microcell without cutting into their monthly minute allotment.

The 3G Microcell will cost a one-time fee of $149.99. Customers who choose the calling plan at the same time they purchase a Microcell are eligible for a $100 rebate, cutting the net cost to $49.99. An additional $50 rebate is available for those who sign up for an AT&T Broadband connection at the same time.

For more information on the AT&T 3G Microcell, visit www.att.com/3gmicrocell.

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AT&T extends Microcell availability

What feels as though it was a lifetime ago, AT&T started testing it's 3G Microcell in very limited fashion a little over a year ago. The 3G Microcell test market was extended shortly thereafter and AT&T is now extending the Microcell's availability again.

In response to one of our reader's inquiries into the Microcell, AT&T replied informing them that the Microcell availability has been extended to the following States and Metropolitan areas; Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, San Diego, and Las Vegas.

If you are lucky enough to live in these areas, all you need to do is visit AT&T's 3G Microcell website and enter your specific zip code to see if the Microcell is available. If you are in one of these trial areas, you will be provided with a list of retail locations where you can purchase the Microcell. There was no mention on the pricing for the Microcell itself but it appears, in reading the fine print, the service will run $19.99 per month.  There are still rumors that bundled discounts will be available to lower the monthly cost.

The 3G Microcell uses your existing broadband internet service to connect to the AT&T Network. The result is you get five bars of reception when you otherwise would have to suffer with one (or fewer) bars. The Microcell will provide up to 5,000 square feet of coverage.

There is no indication from AT&T when (or if) the Microcell will be available nationwide but for those in poor signal areas, it can't get here any quicker. Thanks goes out to jaffec for the tip.

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AT&T Microcell Pricing Rumors


While we patiently wait for AT&T's Microcell to hit the market nationwide, pricing rumors are slowly emerging.

Judging from the site that went live today, it looks like AT&T is going to try to bundle the Microcell with their home phone and internet service. If you have both, the Microcell service is free. If you have either AT&T home phone service OR AT&T internet, the Microcell will cost you $9.99 a month. Don't have either? Then the Microcell service jumps to $19.99 per month. [via Engadget]

Still no word on how much the equipment itself will cost or any official on these prices, though AT&T has added more information on the Microcell to its Web site.  The page has information on how to set up the Microcell to whether or not it's available in your area (zip code search).  Oddly, there is no pricing information available on the site.

Thanks to everybody who sent this in

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For those patiently waiting for AT&T's Microcell device, the hope of bringing more bars to your house might become reality shortly. Yahoo [via Engadget] is reporting that the 3G Microcell is expected to launch in the next few days in selected markets. While the full list of markets hasn't been announced, the initial launch is believed to include Atlanta, San Antonio, Seattle and North Carolina.

The Microcell has been in testing phases throughout the summer and full roll-out should be by the end of this year. The 3G tower will boost reception in homes with poor network coverage.

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Back in January, we reported on the AT&T Microcell, a 3G HSPA-enabled femtocell unit. We are now learning from Engadget Mobile that AT&T will begin testing the MicroCell in selected, signal deprived homes next week. The selected participants not only get to keep the unit but are also paid $200 for their involvement. The downside (if you could call it a downside) is that participants can't be away from their home for more than a week during the trial and can't move during the trial period. All in all not a bad deal to be at the front of the line for the femtocell service.

The trial period runs through June 9, and hopefully AT&T will evaluate the results quickly, make whatever adjustments are necessary and have the Microcell available to everyone post-haste.

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We've mentioned home signal extenders such as Verizon's Network Extender and Sprint's Airave and now it appears AT&T is joining the femtocell bandwagon with their 3G MicroCell. While pricing and availability aren't indicated on AT&T's site, we do know that it will cover up to 5,000 square feet, allow up to four simultaneous, secure voice or data connections, and will require a broadband connection to operate. It is also only compatible with 3G phones. This may end up being an advantage because similar cells offered by Sprint are limited to 2G coverage.

Another feature, according to the AT&T site is "Unlimited nationwide calling: With the 3G MicroCell, you have the option of unlimited minutes in the home or on any 3G MicroCell* with a 3G MicroCell service plan." We don't know if this is an additional cost feature or if the MicroCell will require a monthly fee to use period. Sprint charges for the Airave device ($99.99) and also charges a $4.99 monthly fee. Verizon eliminated the monthly fee but their Network Extender is a more costly device ($250).  It will be interesting to see what the final pricing details for AT&T turns out to be.

[Read: Engadget.com]

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