UPDATED: Apple Releases iPhone Carrier Update: Adds AT&T MicroCell Support

UPDATED: Comparing the before and after states of carrier.plist, iambored8907 reports in the comments that the update added PNG graphics for AT&T's new MicroCell (Femtocell) service:


AT&T MicroCell
DefaultCARRIERATT M-Cell.png

ORIGINAL STORY: Apple today is pushing down a "Carrier Update" via iTunes. As usual, explanations are scant to none. Have you gotten it yet? What carrier are you on, and are you noticing any differences?

(Thanks to Earless Puppy for the head's up!)

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 70 comments. Add yours.

Scott says:

all i see is that the carrier version is "AT&T 3.1" now.

lgreenberg says:

Any word on whether or not this has any effect on Jailbreaking?

guinness0514 says:

correction...downloading now

iDutch says:

Nothing(yet) here in The Netherlands for T-Mobile, still on 2.9

Josh says:

I just downloaded it via iTunes.
AT&T - Raleigh, NC
Haven't used the phone to notice any difference yet.

Josh S says:

I jsut downloaded it via Itunes as well.
At&t- Denver, CO
Too soon to tell what has changed yet.

Rick says:

Nothing to report with Fido. Still on 2.9

Eric says:

Took all of 2 seconds to update from AT&T 2.9 to AT&T 3.1. No issues as of yet.

Jeffdc5 says:

Does it mess with the jailbreak? I refuse to use my iPhone in factory form

Kathleen says:

Here's Apple's explanation: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1970
I haven't updated my own phone yet- I'm still dragging my feet on the last update...

Bosshogg says:

Has any body checked to see if possibly this update allows swirly mms to operate on at&t yet. Would love for AT&T to finally suck it up and allow swirly to operate.

Ana says:

Would this affect the jailbreak? yes? no? maybe? anybody know? Thanks in advanced =).

Jeffdc5 says:

@kathleen you should get the 2.2.1 update safari runs 2x better and seems to demand less ram than before

Matt says:

Word of warning.. If/When you apply this update.. Be sure to power off/on your phone afterwards while you are still near your computer.. The update didn't power cycle my phone.. I assumed it just didn't need to since I've never gotten this kind of update before.. But later I had to power cycle my phone and when it started back up it required re-activation.. Would have been a little bit peeved if I wasn't at home when that happened!

icebike says:

I think your re-activation requirement was a fluke, because it didn't happen for me.
What did happen was my 3G speeds dropped from 1700-1400 down to 600-300 KBits/sec.
(Measured by the free SpeedTest App).
It might be just a time of day thing. I live two arrow shots and a tomahawk throw from a high school which can consume all available cell bandwidth at certain times of the day. I'll try later.
My speculation: This is something to do with the tethering plans ATT is offering.

Eric says:

Anyone else have anything to chime in about...?
I don't want to update it if it decreases my 3G speed.
Maybe they're decreasing it because they have an overload on their network...?

Jeffdc5 says:

LOL can you imagine the fallout if they decreased every iPhones speed on purpose..

Rene Ritchie says:

NOTHING for me on Rogers, may be an AT&T specific tweak-date?

Eric says:

Of course, my hopes is its an update that helps the iphone receive better signal. Not cap the down/up speed on its network.
Im weary about updating it now though. Can anyone do some speed tests to make sure you dont have the same results as icebike...and it was just a coincidence for him.

Ericimo says:

SpeedTest is reporting about 50% redux in overall speed (usually about 1500kbps, now 900kbps). However, iTunes and App store are loading pretty fast over 3G. Could be playing games with my mind...

Jeffdc5 says:

I would hold of on this untill we get some clear answers

DRLyman says:

I just installed and rebooted the phone without any problems. I checked my speed with the speedtest app and it averaged 1356.

Stephen Sizemore says:

The speed test app is showing a decrease in speed. I'm testing near a cell tower in Jacksonville, FL.
Before Update
Test 1: 2300 kbps
Test 2: 2072 kbps
After Update
Test 1: 1100 kbps
Test 2: 1800 kbps
Test 3: 1417 kbps
I don't really notice a decrease in speed though. Anything over 1000 kbps is fine with me.

Ericimo says:

Speeds are back up to 1600 - 1700 Kbps on 3G, don't really know what's going on. Anyone else feeling speed flux?

shutter says:

I just updated my 2.2.1 JB iPhone, does not seem to have affected the jailbreak at all, took all of 4 seconds to update. JB apps still working.

iambored8907 says:

Heres what changed (I compared the carrier.plist before and after):
AT&T MicroCell
DefaultCARRIERATT M-Cell.png

iambored8907 says:

AT&T MicroCell
DefaultCARRIERATT M-Cell.png

iambored8907 says:

Sorry if those last two post didnt make since. They added the MicroCell device support, and added new logos for it

DigitaIJedi says:

Just downloaded it and cycled but havent noticed anything yet and it did not require a re-activation. No rumors site has much on it

icebike says:

Once out of the evening rush hour my speed rebounded a little.
Again, 1700-1400 down to 600-300 KBits/sec prior to update, and 600-300 KBits/sec post update in rush hour.
After rush hour, and before reboot, the speed is up around 1100-900.
After iPhone reboot 1300-1200.
The speed test is all over the place.
Seattle area.

Shabbaz says:

It's an update that adds a carrier image to account for being connected to AT&T's new Microcell system. It only adds two PNGs, one in a light and one in a dark font, that read "AT&T M-Cell".

Gabe says:

AT&T's 3G MicroCell to patch iPhone dead zones
By Prince McLean
Published: 08:00 AM EST
iPhone 3G users stuck in an AT&T dead zone at home or at work will soon be able to plug in a device that provides a strong local signal for up to 10 phones and four simultaneous voice or data connections via a connection to broadband Internet.
Price and availability haven't yet been set for the appliance, which AT&T calls the 3G MicroCell. The CDMA industry usually refers to local area, consumer cellular base stations as a "femtocell," suggesting a smaller version of the "picocell," an industry term for a cellular base station installed to extend the signal of standard "Node B" antennas of cellular networks. Apple has installed commercial GSM picocells with 3G base stations within its retail stores that work in parallel with WiFi base stations to give the locations both WiFi and 3G cellular signals.
Just as with picocells and full scale cellular antennas, a femtocell automatically passes a mobile user's phone connection to the next nearest existing cellular towers as they leave the local signal area provided by the base station. AT&T's "MicroCell" branding suggests a device a thousand times more significant than a femtocell, but it's really the same thing. In the world of UMTS, a femtocell is usually called a Home Node B

mikee d. says:

oh so in other words, the "carrier update" is useless?
unless you live on a farm of course... lol i'm just playin. =]

earless puppy says:

I am thinking this will eventually require a 2.1 update ( which I personally have ) that we will see in the near future... Otherwise this would of been in the 2.1 update or in the next 2.2 update

Dave Lindsay says:

no update available to UK o2

Jose says:

Update available to vodafone portugal (VF P 3.1)

Glenn says:

Took 3 sec don't know what it did tho lol

Steve says:

If they don't want to explain it... then I don't want to download it.

iphone user says:

It is a stupid update. It doesnt change anything important. All it does is change the image(.png) of the carrier name that appears on the top of the screen.
I use AT&T. I found this on google:
"They’re just carrier logo replacements for AT&T’s upcoming cell-tower-in-your-living-room MicroCell - when you’re connected to the MicroCell (or M-Cell, apparently), it’ll show these logos up at the top instead of the default AT&T ones."
More information at:http://www.mobilecrunch.com/2009/02/06/what-was-in-that-att-iphone-carri...

icebike says:

Quoting your quote: "ust as with picocells and full scale cellular antennas, a femtocell automatically passes a mobile user’s phone connection to the next nearest existing cellular towers as they leave the local signal area provided by the base station."
This is however NOT how the ATT service is going to work, its going to backhaul on YOUR broadband.
This leaves me wondering where on earth can you find has broadband but no cell service?
And if you find such places, how many will want to expand and enhance AT&Ts network and have to PAY for the privilege of doing so?
What incentive would AT&T have to fix "dead zones" (Translation: we're too cheap to put up a tower" if they can start making money with them by selling subscribers equipment and charge them monthly to use it?
I think we should be lobbying our regulators to prohibit charging for the equipment and instead insist that AT&T PAY THE USER for some percentage of their broadband and power bill for operating this equipment.

Aaron Matthew Kaiser says:

@icebike: I actually have a situation where this would help me. I live in LA, but stay with my grandmother when visiting San Diego. I have a router setup to connect via wifi and AT&T tells me there is a cell tower very close. The problem is that the composition of her building blocks the signals and I get dropped calls and spotty reception constantly! Makes it very hard to conduct business when on the road. This solution would be ideal.

Jr3153 says:

I live here in Texas. Recently we here in The Texas Highway Patrol got in car laptops with AT&T aircards. We have a button on the computer that we push when we are at an area where there is no service. That info is sent to AT&T. We have had them about a year now, and I must say I now have better service in alot of areas where I used to not have service.
AT&T is required to check those locations and improve the service. And we gave Troopers all over the state oviously, so I have been recommending AT&T to all my family and friends in Texas

Eric says:

So I updated to 3.1.
It didn't effect the down/up speeds that I was worried about before. Same exact thing.
Everyone feel free to download.
And to those who don't want to give in to a stupid download, who cares. AT&T cetainly doesnt care if you don't download it. Mind as well just download it, so it doesn't pop up everytime you plug your iphone in. It takes a mere 5 seconds.

YoungKevin says:

Well it makes sense to me. I don't mind paying a little to have a better signal even though it's using my broadband connection. I heard that it's gonna allow unlimited minutes & data when connected. I don't have a land line at my house. My iPhone is my only phone so when I'm at home I can talk all I want to without going over my minutes

David says:

This leaves me wondering where on earth can you find has broadband but no cell service?
And if you find such places, how many will want to expand and enhance AT&Ts network and have to PAY for the privilege of doing so?
What incentive would AT&T have to fix “dead zones” (Translation: we’re too cheap to put up a tower” if they can start making money with them by selling subscribers equipment and charge them monthly to use it?

Rural Vermont... As soon as the 3G Microcell is available, I'll be buying it whatever it costs to get a signal in all rooms of the house.

Paul says:

I had troubles (intermittent connection issues to both 3G and WiFi) until I rebooted the phone.

Ned says:

We have signal outdoors but not indoors probably in part due to construction materials. We have this service on our TMobile and it makes the difference between having TMobile and giving it up. We have recently considered dropping iphone due to this problem. This would make a big difference.

trock4u says:

I have a 2.2.1 jb iphone and updated the carrier settings from att and everything is working fine.
go for it.

MyNoR says:

nothing's changed here Seattle WA

Peter says:

It may ad something trivial like a png graphic or two, or some microcell junk-but what it really does is update your BASEBAND which makes your unlocked 3g iphone LOCKED again. Everyone knew not to do the iphone update, so they snuck this in as a "carrier update"

Ford says:

I have NEVER had reliable service at my house. It's a small pocket of no coverage between Los gatos and Saratoga Ca. After update service went to 5 bars. I wonder if ATT has been installing cells that are only accessible after this upgrade

Anthony says:

After doing the carrier update, my services sucks in certain places. Places that I had 1 or 2 bars before now have no services! Dropped Calls! Sometime have full service, but still unable to make a call! When not on wifi, data service is not as fast, like it was before. Carrier update did no good for me, plus it massed up my SwirlyMMS which allows MMS on the iPhone, unable to send and receive now. As for the jail breaking, I do not see any issues with this.

Chris says:

I installed the update and didn't cycle on/off. Now my phone won't turn on unless it's plugged in. Any suggestions?

Nate says:

I have a jailbroken 3G iphone, running 2.2.1, and just updated a few hours ago, and have just noticed that I can't connect to the Internet over 3G or Edge. I can usually connect over both where I live on campus, and tested in several places around Rutgers New Brunswick (NJ). I can send/recieve texts and make phone calls, but mail can't connect to any servers, and safari reports that it is not connected to the Internet.

Chris says:

After applying the 3.1 Carrier Update I can no longer receive calls while on the Edge network. Anyone else having this issue? BTW phone is not jailbroken and is running iphone version 2.2.1

Jeff says:

Since I have updated, my 3G and EDGE connections are useless. They do not load anything. I tried a Speedtest on 3G and it tells me "Your connection may have been lost. Check your connection and try again." Everything was fine until I updated, and now unless I'm using Wi-Fi, I cannot connect to internet. Also, it seems my Visula voicemail is all jacked up too. I had a missed call and didn't get the voicemail until a day and a half later. When I went to listen to it, it could not load it, and when I try to listen to my greeting to see if my voicemail is working, it just tries to retrieve the info, but nothing happens. I'm pissed.

Jeff says:

UPDATE: So it never tells you too, but I tried restarting my iphone and now the problem is solved. If you are having problems, and haven't restarted, try it!!

Mike says:

I have had connection problems since updating. Used to get great reception at work...now spotty and going to EDGE more often. Could be coincidence...but my battery life has diminshed as well. Was very happy with the iPhone until now.

Jeff says:

Looks like I spoke too soon. I had to restart again today because my 3G and voicemail were again not working. Definitely not happy with this

Nremt87 says:

Could some one email me a copy of their AT&T carrier.plist

Nremt87 says:

me again sorry my email is rearly1@gmail.com PLEASE HELP

Mike says:

Was able to do a restore which prompted me for the carrier update once again. This time I opted out. Back to version 2.9 and no more problems.

Bob says:

Since the update in the past three weeks I have noticed that specifically phone voice calls have drained the battery significantly. Two or three moderately timed calls can drain an almost full battery charge. This past week I added the mophie juice pack to my iPhone 3G and even noticed that it drains that down quickly too. If I don't use the Phone for voice calls, but mostly email Push on MobileMe and our exchange server, then the battery and/or juice pack might last 2 days without needing a re-charge. The battery issue was the only thing holding me back on the iPhone and I was hoping the juice pack would ease my fears of a power outage. Home in my apartment is the only place my signal is weak, so I'm looking forward to the home-base solution. But as far as power goes, I still need more cow bell!

Joseph says:

Updated the carrier settings to 3.1. Now i have no 3G service at all even with full signal. Edge and WiFi work.
Can make calls too. Tried a hard reset and it worked for a few minutes then nothing. Does anyone know why? Thanks.

ad says:

i updated and i have been noticing that a lot of calls sometimes never ring my phone. The calls (from my wife's tmobile phone) just don't get through. I have no record of missed calls. When they do come through, they sometimes go directly to voicemail. what a POS as a phone!

Anthony says:

OMGG PEOPLE !! restart your phone its been here since 1pm!!!

Anthony says:

i haven't noticed anything different . its just you..

Josh says:

Updated my phone to 3.1 along with carrier. After turning the phone off then back on, I can now send & receive pictures in txts.

manish says:

i updated my i phone 3.1 to 3.1.3,after that the phone showing a error only compatibel sim card frm a supported carrier may be used to activate i phone plz insert tha sim card or visit a supported carrier store to recieve a replacement sim card,that error showing plz help me what can i do now???????