AT&T Microcell

We’ve never had good cell phone coverage at home … even when we had Verizon service.

The coverage with AT&T is even worse … but, we do like the iPhones.

I was pretty interested when AT&T announced they were rolling out 3G Microcell devices.

Basically, a Microcell is a tiny 3G cell site. It provides 3G service to up to 10 authorized cell phones. The 3G service is provided using VoIP like service (if not exactly VoIP). The range is about 40 feet in all directions.

The Microcell has a built in GPS unit so that it can verify it’s in the correct location … for E911 service and, I assume, so the AT&T systems can tell which cell towers to hand the call off to when you leave the devices range.

Setting up the device wasn’t hard … although it took quite a long time to activate. The instructions indicated that it could take up to 90 minutes, but ours took about 3 hours.

After going through all the steps to activate it, I waited … and waited … and waited. The 3G indicator light just blinked slowly. After 2 hours I decided to simply cycle power on the device and see if it helped.

After the reboot, the device reacquired it’s GPS link and the 3G light blinked quite rapidly … and, after about 10 minutes, it rebooted itself.

After the reboot, the 3G indicator went back to the slow blink.

On the AT&T website, however, the status indicated there was an error and that I should call for help.

Oddly enough, the 3G indicator light was on solid … which was supposed to indicate the setup was complete. I also got a text message and email indicating the setup was complete.

I made a quick call to Mitch, to see how the quality was … and it wasn’t great. I’m not sure if that was my phone, the Microcell, or Mitch’s phone.

So I called from our land line phone … and, while the voice quality wasn’t bad, there was a very distinctive lag when talking (almost 1 second).

I did add the Microcell’s MAC address to my routers QOS table, so it will get the highest priority on the internet access.

Luckily there’s a 30 day return on the Microcell … so I’ll have to evaluate the performance.

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