Why is the "MicroCell" a necessary device?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by BruiserB, Jul 12, 2010.

  1. BruiserB macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2008
    #1
    Why does AT&T have to issue the MicroCell hardware at all?

    If I'm in my home with spotty 3G coverage but my phone is connected to my home wi-fi network, why can't it just route my call over wi-fi rather than needing the extra piece of hardware to convert my internet to a 3G signal? They essentially already do this to allow a FaceTime call. But with audio only both users wouldn't need wi-fi. It would be great if the phone could manage to transition between wi-fi and 3G for voice calls seamlessly much the same way it does for data now.

    Imagine the burden it would take off the cell towers if everyone's phones in NYC and SF switched to wi-fi when people took them inside! I guess the ISP's would complain that ATT was shifting the burden of its calls to them, but they're essentially doing the same thing with the MicroCell, but the MicroCell just makes it harder to do it because it requires an additional piece of hardware to set up and configure.

    ATT could still offer it as an "optional" service, but it would be a lot easier to implement. They could maybe offer some sort of credit for number of minutes used "off the cell grid". I would think you'd want to still buy a package for your overall minutes used, since it's too hard to estimate from month to month how much time you'd spend on/off the grid, but then if you got some sort of rebate depending on what portion of your time went through wi-fi, that would be cool.

    Maybe requiring the MicroCell prevents an en-masse shifting to the internet and if everyone did it, the ISPs would collapse? But it seems like it could be set up on the phone that it preferentially stays on 3G and only moves to wi-fi when service drops below a certain strength (or when you inadvertently grip your iPhone 4 incorrectly ;) )
     
  2. goobot macrumors 603

    goobot

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2009
    Location:
    long island NY
    #2
    first off all 4 carriers have m-cells. i know people like to pick on att cause they think Verizon is soooo good. just like how they talk about the etf while att's is lower.

    any how some people would like to keep their # while texting and calling. also to keep them in native apps.
     
  3. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #3
    Because not every phone has WiFi. There are other phones out there besides the iPhone.
     
  4. steviem macrumors 68020

    steviem

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Location:
    New York, Baby!
    #4
    Because the phone part of your phone uses gsm rather than VoIP and that is why the Femtocell/Microcell is required if you live in an are with poor reception.
     
  5. thelatinist macrumors 603

    thelatinist

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2009
    Location:
    Connecticut, USA
    #5
    T-Mo used to offer phones which could automatically switch to WiFi/VOIP mode, using your T-Mo phone number. My sister used to have one. It never really caught on, and they've discontinued the service for new customers. It always made perfect sense to me, and it would certainly be useful to me at work, where I have almost no cell signal.
     
  6. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #6
    You can. Its AT&T's half baked solution to spotty cell coverage. Beside correct me if I'm wrong but the microcell is also helpful to extend cellular traffic, i.e., voice. Something wifi cannot do unless you use VOIP
     
  7. maturola macrumors 68040

    maturola

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #7
    You can, you just have to pick who to pay,,, AT&T, VONAGE, Skype. You can get vonage or skype app on your phone and router your phone calls using your WiFI. you still have to pay (Vonage have a monthly fee while skype have those skype minutes to phone calls to landlines or international), so for what understand from another forum that someone did the math, the microcell actually turn out to be cheaper than all of the other services.
     
  8. Matthew9559 macrumors 6502a

    Matthew9559

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2007
    Location:
    Texas
    #8
    I am going to pick up a microcell today and I hope the setup is easy. AT&T forums have been helpful unmaking my decision.
     
  9. Chad H macrumors 6502a

    Chad H

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Location:
    Auburn, AL
    #9
    What's the cost of a microcell if you already have unlimited talk/text/web?
     
  10. maturola macrumors 68040

    maturola

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #10
    last time i check,,it was $150 and you use your exiting minutes.
     
  11. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #11
    So you have to pay for the luxury of extending AT&T's network - shouldn't they be giving these things away? :confused:
     
  12. makefunnyfaces macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Location:
    West Virginia
    #12
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_0 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8A293 Safari/6531.22.7)

    No kidding. I've been with AT&T for years (around 7 or so), & I have absolutely NO signal at home. I've decided to go pick up a MicroCell sometime this week. I figure it would be a cheaper option, considering it would allow me to get rid of my landline all together. Plus, my local AT&T said I would get a $100.00 mail-in-rebate. That's better than nothing. :p
     
  13. mgamber macrumors 6502a

    mgamber

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2008
    Location:
    1966
    #13
    Not only that, but when they say "nationwide rollout", shouldn't they mean "nationwide rollout"? I've been dying for one of these things and they're still not available where I live. I've heard October but you hear a lot of meaningless bulls**t from AT&T, who's to say this isn't just more of the same? I suppose AT&T is redefining "nationwide rollout" to mean "selected areas" like they redefined "unlimited data" to mean "5 gb".
     
  14. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    #14
    They did away with that crap because the handsets that were capable of using it were limited. A few dumbphones and one or two smart phones, IIRC.

    OP I would agree with you in theory but the device isn't true voip (I suspect you know this). For all intents and purposes, the MicroCell device only extends coverage to your local. ATT is still making the home run, whether your ISP is delivering the call to their backhaul endpoints , or via a cell tower through through it's backhaul.
     
  15. dagomike macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    #15
    I think the Microcell is kind of cool. Sure, I'd like to get five bars in my basement, but I can whine about it never happening or get a box to make it happen.

    Would it be cool to have my phone switch to VoIP when on WiFi? Maybe. Keep in mind the Microcell runs on 1900 MHz, and if you're in a dense WiFi area you may not get the call quality you'd like on WiFi. And I don't know if the Microcell does anything specific to the call, but it does provide 911 location and establishes a dedicated link to ATT.
     
  16. b-rad g macrumors 6502a

    b-rad g

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    #16
    I use MagicJack for all of my at home phone calls. $19.95 per year is hard to beat!
     
  17. rmwhite macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2010
    #17
    Like it or not, you're still using some of AT&T's spectrum, which they paid billions of dollars for.
     
  18. BruiserB thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2008
    #18
    But why can't the "Phone" app just switch between ATT 3G and wi-fi when the signal is weak without requiring me to have Vonage, skype, etc. It would go over an ATT VOIP service and be managed by the "Phone" app that is on the iPhone already. All the Microcell is doing is changing your 3G signal over to a VOIP call anyway as I see it....isn't the iPhone capable of doing this by itself?
     
  19. maturola macrumors 68040

    maturola

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #19
    it's not that simple, the Wifi modulation is different form the GSM modulation, the Macrocell use the top band of GSM for short range signal and them internally route the data thought a backbone (in this case your broadband connection). on the phone the only thing it does its change frequencies when you leave the coverage area of your microcell (from the ~1900MHZ band to the band use by the near AT&T tower, usually on the ~800MHZ)

    The hardware on the iPhone potentially could support the feature you want (switching back and forth between GSM/wIFI) but it have to be manage by firmware (at the radio lavel) and software (at the OS level), this may (since we dont really know the details of the contract) violate the contract with the carriers.

    hope it help to clarify the issue a bit.
     
  20. chambo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    #20
    I use a Spring 3g card for my home internet (connected to a router). I don't have AT&T 3g service in my house and no cable or dsl access. So, if I buy a microcell my AT&T calls would end up going through Sprint's 3g network...ha!
     
  21. Daveoc64 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #21
    People don't realise that the real cost of running a cellular network doesn't come from building cell sites. When you run a MicroCell, everything beyond your internet connection costs AT&T money to maintain. They incur costs connecting your calls even when you use the MicroCell.
     
  22. ACDeag macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Location:
    Edinburgh, UK
    #22

    I think you are referring to UMA

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unlicensed_Mobile_Access
     
  23. digiphantom macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2008
    #23
    If you buy the microcell, do you also have to pay a monthly fee to AT&T for using it too? Or do you just buy the hardware and that's it?

    I think I misunderstood it when I first read about the microcell.
     
  24. Daveoc64 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #24
    There are a few options.

    You can buy it for $150 and pay no monthly fee. You can then just use your normal allowance of calls/texts/data.

    AT&T offers an extra package that gives you unlimited calls when using your MicroCell. I think it's $20
     
  25. scaredpoet macrumors 604

    scaredpoet

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    #25
    Yeah, good luck with that. The latency would be horrific.
     

Share This Page