MicroCell: For when you live in a cellular dead-zone.
You frown at the phone in your hand. It dropped a call again, and this one was really important, too. You don't know why you get zero bars in your house when you can just walk across the street and all of a sudden, your phone is showing full signal strength. Go figure.
If your wireless carrier is AT&T, then their MicroCell may be the answer your signal-strength woes.
- Just what is a MicroCell anyway?
- What's required to use a MicroCell?
- How does billing work with the MicroCell?
- Is the MicroCell right for me?
Just what is a MicroCell anyway?
The MicroCell is a wireless signal booster developed by Cisco and AT&T. It uses your existing fixed broadband internet service to boost the signal strength for AT&T wireless services, such as voice calls, texts, and cellular data usage. It does this without affecting or degrading your Wi-Fi connection. Here are some more details about the MicroCell:
- Range: 40 feet in every direction from the unit, or about 5,000 square feet.
- Data speed: 3G only.
- Number of simultaneously connected devices allowed: 4
What's required to use a MicroCell?
There are a few requirements to use a MicroCell:
- A fixed broadband internet connection with speeds of at least 1.5Mbps downstream and 256Kbps upstream.
- An AT&T wireless plan.
- A router or modem with an available Ethernet port.
- A 3G, 4G, or 4G LTE handset.
- A computer with internet access to activate the device.
AT&T also recommends that you install the MicroCell near a window to make it easier for the GPS system to determine its location.
How does billing work with the MicroCell?
Any calls you make or data you use while connected to a MicroCell gets billed according to your existing wireless service contract.
There is one exception, however, and that is if you purchase the Unlimited MicroCell Calling feature. If you buy this feature, calls started while connected to the MicroCell will not use any of your plan minutes.
Yes, that means if you call your best friend while you're at home and then leave the house, you won't be charged for any minutes – even after your connection transfers from the MicroCell to the strongest available AT&T tower!
Is the MicroCell right for me?
The real question is would you benefit from having a MicroCell in your home?
AT&T's website says that the MicroCell is intended for people who have weak cellular service at home. Furthermore, AT&T indicates that people with strong cellular service already will see no improvements – in fact, signal strength may degrade for them.
So, if you have great cellular reception, give the MicroCell a miss. On the other hand, if you're constantly wandering around your house holding your phone above your head looking for reception, then you should look into it. You may even wrangle a free MicroCell from AT&T if your connection is bad enough!