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?