Saturday, July 03, 2010

ATTs Microcell

Many home cellular users seem to have a problem with reception.  There simply are not as many cell towers in some residential neighborhoods.   About a year ago AT&T began bringing out something called a Microcell.  The device which costs $150 links your phone into your IP connection and thus makes your cellphone a VOIP device.  As a VOIP device reception improves considerably.   We installed one in our home and went from one to two bars to five immediately.

AT&T has pretty good set of materials to help you install the device (either connected to your computer or to an ethernet port on your router).  But they also have a good support hotline which will talk you through the installation.

They offer two plans for the device.  On the first you pay full price for the device and when you use it, your cellular minutes are charged.  So if you talk for 20 minutes on the cellphone over the Microcell, your cellular account deducts 20 minutes - just like a regular cell call.   The alternative is to get a $100 rebate and then pay $20 per month.  If you take the second option, you get unlimited calling.   The unlimited option would only make sense if you made tons of calls from home.

One other feature which was not clear.  When using VOIP you need to dial in the area code, even if you are calling locally.

I've tried one other signal booster for home and found it was not as effective.   This is simple to install and works for up to 10 cellphones at once (AT&T requires you to have the phone which will use the device registered on the device - which is done at setup).  The Microcell is only available for use with AT&T phones.

I now use a Microcell in both home and office (my office is below ground level and notorious for bad connections).  I found it to be simple to setup and easy to use and most importantly true to what it said it would do - significantly improve cell reception.


Lee said...

Isn't it slightly obnoxious to pay them to work around their network limitations? At home at least. I see the benefit for the subterranean office.

Dr. Tax in Sacramento said...

Good point although in my part of the city, none of the carriers is very good.