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AT&T Trialling Free 3G MicroCell Offers

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Engadget reported over the weekend that some of AT&T's "most valuable customers" have been receiving offers for free 3G MicroCell devices, which recently went nationwide after being tested in limited geographic areas. The 3G MicroCell taps into a user's home broadband Internet connection, routing voice and data over the customer's own connection to provide enhanced coverage in areas with weak cellular signal. Carrying a $150 list price, the MicroCell can be used with a customer's own cellular plan minutes for no additional charge or customers can purchase additional MicroCell minutes for a monthly fee.
While we've no clue how widespread AT&T's generosity is, or how you might get one, it appears that the company's "most valuable customers" are now receiving free range-boosting femtocells. Today, loyal reader Jason got a old-fashioned paper letter in the mail, offering his iPhone-wielding family a 3G MicroCell with no strings attached.
Speculation has suggested that customers being signaled out by AT&T for the offer are high-value customers with substantial monthly contracts that are nearing expiration. The MicroCell offer could then be considered an enticement to convince those customers to re-commit to AT&T for a new contract term.

AT&T has reportedly claimed that the free MicroCell offers are part of a trial the company is running to test various methods of offering the device. As Engadget notes, "free" is usually a pretty good method, although the company has provided no additional information on how it is selecting customers for the trial offer.

Article Link: AT&T Trialling Free 3G MicroCell Offers
 

Consultant

macrumors G5
Jun 27, 2007
13,311
32
Come on AT&T,

iPhone 4 users should be able to get a portable version in a backpack! ;)

Wait, maybe Apple should offer that instead.
 

aardwolf

macrumors 6502
May 30, 2007
364
135
I looked at a MicroCell at my local AT&T store yesterday, and it was listed at $150 before a $100 rebate. So, it's currently $50.
 

iBookG4user

macrumors 604
Jun 27, 2006
6,595
2
Seattle, WA
This is rather ridiculous that you continue to use your minutes when you make a call through this even though you are using up your own bandwidth.
 

dernhelm

macrumors 68000
May 20, 2002
1,649
137
middle earth
They should give them out free to perspective customers that can't purchase ATT because they have zero coverage in their home.

They would if they were smart, anyway.
 

bbotte

macrumors 65816
Feb 11, 2008
1,196
21
USA
So it uses your minutes, on your broadband and invites all your neighbors to use their iphones through your broadband too to free up cell towers? I'm not that nice of a neighbor. This service should be a discount on your bill each month.
 

lshaner

macrumors regular
Mar 7, 2007
155
1
Considering that the point of such a device is to make up for crappy AT&T signal, these should just be offered to anyone who lives in a signal black-hole. I live in such a black-hole and it's always been a black-hole for as long as we've been on AT&T. Were it not for the iPhone and that we travel more than we are home, we wouldn't put up with it.

So, AT&T, gimme gimme! ;-)
 

thatisme

macrumors 6502
Mar 23, 2010
485
106
United States
this whole femtocell deal stinks, even if free. ATT is utilizing your network bandwidth, but still wants you to use your cell phone minutes OR pay for special minutes to be used only on the device.

I could see AT&T charging $50.00 for the device, and giving you unlimited voice minutes over your network. If nothing more than to free up AT&T cell tower resources.

I would pay a 1 time fee to be able to use this in my house over my network, as long as it didn't gobble up my available minutes or cause a new recurring charge on my bill.
 

iBookG4user

macrumors 604
Jun 27, 2006
6,595
2
Seattle, WA
They should give them out free to perspective customers that can't purchase ATT because they have zero coverage in their home.

They would if they were smart, anyway.

I would agree with that. I get terrible coverage in my house, dropped calls galore. So this would hopefully at least make it semi decent if it were offered for free.
 

solafide

macrumors newbie
Jul 6, 2003
25
0
I don't get it...

How does this work in most customer's favor (unless they are in a bad reception area)? I pay ATT $150 for a unit, that will offer up the Internet bandwidth that I pay ATT for to other customers of ATT? So... ATT gets me to extend their network AND pay them to do it? If someone opts to host one of these units for ATT, they should be getting some break (added minutes, e.g.) on their wireless bill.

What am I missing?
 

topmounter

macrumors 68020
Jun 18, 2009
2,299
464
FEMA Region VIII
The MicroCell would be nice if it had a jack for a standard phone... working from home and on endless conference calls, the speaker phone on my N1 and iPhone just can't compare to the speaker on my cordless phones.
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,984
2,745
St. Louis, MO
This is rather ridiculous that you continue to use your minutes when you make a call through this even though you are using up your own bandwidth.

You can pay $20 a month and have unlimited minutes on the MicroCell. But just because your calls aren't going over the air, they still hit AT&T's network and still cost them money.

So it uses your minutes, on your broadband and invites all your neighbors to use their iphones through your broadband too to free up cell towers? I'm not that nice of a neighbor. This service should be a discount on your bill each month.

No, your neighbors can't use it. Only the numbers you authorize can use it.
 

kironin

macrumors 6502a
May 4, 2004
611
247
Texas
man, AT&T really needs to send me a free one. I deal with dropped calls from my iPhone everyday in my home office. The only solution I have is to use Skype. Given the number of AT&T people I've talked to about it over the years they got to know.

come on AT&T, my contract is expiring this year and I'm waiting to see what Apple fesses up to about the iPhone 4 defect before making a move. Send me one. :D
 

notintheleast

macrumors 6502
Oct 1, 2008
424
0
NC
So it uses your minutes, on your broadband and invites all your neighbors to use their iphones through your broadband too to free up cell towers? I'm not that nice of a neighbor. This service should be a discount on your bill each month.

You assign the numbers that are allowed to use it yourself....
 

daverso

macrumors regular
Sep 5, 2007
117
93
I wouldn't use the thing if they did give it to me for free. We just returned ours a few days ago. Unless you're in direct range of the hot spot (maybe 30 feet, assuming you have a normal house... with walls...) your phone will constantly switch between the microcell and back to AT&T's cell. The big problem is, you drop whatever call you are on when your phone makes this switch... My whole family hated the damn thing, so we returned it.
 

LeviG

macrumors 65816
Nov 6, 2006
1,277
2
Norfolk, UK
So how does this thing work? It pulls a 3g over the air signal on it's own or does it pull off your existing Internet / broadband coverage?
if it's like the ones in the uk it's outputting 3g and then sends over the telephone line via a router/modem etc,

This in essence means that all your calls are routed via your internet connection taking load off of the local towers but still costing you money as you still get charged any minutes on your mobile AND you pay for the broadband.
 

Buckely

macrumors newbie
Jun 19, 2010
6
0
I received my free microcell letter Saturday in the mail and picked it up in the store Sunday. I never complained about coverage in my home and I just renewed my contract with my Iphone 4 purchase. No one at AT&T knew why I got my letter. but I cant complain the tower works great and no reception issues in my apartment anymore.
 
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