AT&T Microcell Goes Nation-wide Mid-April

AT&T has announced (opens in new tab) that their femtocell-based Microcell service (opens in new tab), previously in limited testing, will roll out nation-wide this April:

AT&T 3G MicroCell is available for a one-time cost of $149.99.[...] In addition, AT&T will offer a companion rate plan option for MicroCell customers – especially customers on Family Talk plans -- who want to supplement their existing voice plans. For $19.99 a month, individual or Family Talk customers can make unlimited calls through a 3G MicroCell, without using minutes in their monthly wireless voice plan.Consumers who select 3G MicroCell calling plans at purchase are also eligible to receive a $100 mail-in-rebate toward the purchase of AT&T 3G MicroCell – effectively making the device about $50. Customers who also purchase a new line of broadband service with AT&T (DSL or U-verse 1.5MB or higher) are also eligible for $50 via mail-in-rebate– effectively making the device about $100. If a customer is eligible for both rebate options, the customer will be able to get the device for $0, after mail-in rebate.

So any iPhone owners with zero bars at home or at work contemplating a shiny new Microcell next month?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I currently get 1 bar of EDGE at hom so I can't wait for this!!!
  • That's actually the perfect solution for me. I have 3G in my home town right up to my driveway--you drive in and it goes to Edge. I'll have to look into this...
    Would also be really good for those of us who don't like paying for a landline for things other than Emergency 911 Service.
  • What a waste of money :(
  • Sucks that we have to pay for it, but I have been waiting for this for a while. Coverage is spotty to begin with and living on the 20th floor in the Chicago provides minimal service.
  • I can't understand why one would get this. If u have wifi at home, why would you want 3G? Explain
  • In in building cellular booster is already available. Granted your investment will be higher than the Femtocell, but there are no recurring costs with a booster. I have boosters in my home, office and car because I live in a very rural area.
  • Because you can't do voice with wifi, at least on the iPhone. This is really a voice solution. I have TMobile with HotSpot@Home, but that requires a UMA phone, and only their BlackBerries have this feature. ATT sucks at my house, but I will certainly go iPhone and ATT when this is rolled out. It took forever...they announced it over a year ago. The timing will be fine, as it will be rolled out by the time the updated iPhones come out.
  • WiFi, my friends, WiFi . . . free public WiFi for all.
  • I'm confused and can't quite wrap my mind around this technology. So you're in a situation where you have a broadband pipe coming into your abode, but, for various reasons, you don't get get a decent cell signal. For $150 this thing allows you drop down to 3G speeds to make calls and access data on your AT&T plan, within about a 40' radius of the box. In that situation, why wouldn't you just tap your wifi for data and use a VOIP system for calling? What am I missing?
  • Collin, you're missing the fact that if you're at home without one of these and you have lousy tower coverage (or building construction that blocks the signal) your cell phone won't ring if someone calls you. I have a perfectly serviceable landline, but I still want my cell phone to ring at home if someone happens to call it.
  • Zzzzzz...
  • I have been waiting for this!!!
  • So, because your service, which I am paying for, is garbage, Your solution is for me to pay for a femtocell, pay for broadband access, and then pay additional for unlimited calling, and for the bandwidth this is using?
    What genius thought up this plan...
  • Just add another mothly bill on top of ur existing data plan plus ur ipad data plan. Paying out the azz in mothly fees. Oh not to mention u must have broadband at home which is another monthly fee
  • At home in the Houston suburbs, I just turn off 3G and use Edge for voice calls while also being connected to Wifi for data. Works fine, so no need for the femtocell. I would consider buying if it didn't include extra monthly fees. $20 for unlimited calling when I have thousands of rollover minutes isn't worth it. I like the concept though. :)
  • AT&T should pay people to plug this in to you homes
  • I findi t amusing that instead of improving their coverage, they talk it up on tv and then release...this.
  • I believe that you can purchase the 3G Micro Cell for $149.00 to improve IPhone reception without having to incur any additional monthly fee for your cell bill.
  • jeez finally... i'll probably get one for home because my service is SOO bad in the house. it just sucks that its going to cost $150 to get it.
  • YOU WON'T NECESSARILY GET THIS IN APRIL- READ THE AT&T ANNOUNCEMENT: begin its national roll out beginning in mid April, with new markets activating in cities across the continental U.S. for the next several months.
  • I have spotty coverage at best in my house, however as soon as I step outside it improves. I have no interest in a landline so I'm stuck with hit or miss coverage while at home. Something like this interests me. I'd even consider paying the extra $20 a month for the unlimited calling while using the femtocell. It'd turn my mobile into a 'home phone' while at home for a fraction of the cost of a real landline. And if I'm not mistaken $20 is cheaper than, or at least comparable to, VoIP. I already have broadband so I have no problem letting it piggy back on that.
  • I don't mind paying for the equipment, but why should I pay an extra monthly fee for something that should be working in my home in the first place? ...and I'm being charged to take the network load off of AT&T? Hello, I'm I missing something here!?
    I would completely understand If I live up in the mountains where service is hardly available, but come on.. they have an AT&T store less than 2 miles away, shouldn't I have decent service in my home?
    I love my iPhone, but feels the phone is useless if i can't make calls.
  • AT&T shouldnt pay anyone to use this. Its not AT&Ts fault you dont have cell service in your house or in your area for that matter, thats what the 30 day trial is for. If it doesnt work for you get another carrier. The people that own iPhones with bad reception are hopeless souls, and own the phone regardless of service in their area. The Microcell is $149 with $100 mail in rebate. Its also $20 a month for unlimited calling over the microcell. If you dont have the unlimited plan, you can use it for FREE using your regular rate plan minutes. THE $20 A MONTH IS OPTIONAL.
    Another thing is, the more services you have with AT&T the cheaper the unlimited plan is. If you have Uverse, AT&T DSL, and a AT&T landline, you pay NOTHING for unlimited calling over the microcell, each service you have takes $5 off the unlimited price. Microcell advantages, it supports up to 10 phones, 5 simultaneously. for a 5,000 square foot radius around the base. Calls originating on the microcell are handed off when you leave the house and are free as long as the call originated on the microcell, so if you dial out and walk out the door and talk for an hour in the car, and your still on the same call as you were when you left the house its free. Even if its 100 miles from your house. So if you have a weekend football party and have 5 people over with AT&T phones, they are all making free calls on your microcell, what a good host you are. Come to my house and dont use your cell minutes while your here. In the end its costing you $50 and nothing monthly if you either use your own plan minutes or you have unlimited, but you also have AT&Ts other services. Why all the complaints?? If your service sucks where you live, you shoulndnt be on AT&T to begin with "Service not available in all areas"
  • So, another component of AT&T doing as much as they can to offload network demand to ISPs (others include free WiFi hotspot deals with McDonald's, Starbucks). Hey, if it improves perception of AT&T's 3G network quality, that's good for AT&T. Especially if they want to hold on to U.S. iPhone exclusivity for the near forseeable future. So I think this is a smart move for AT&T to keep their iPhone customers happy and loyal especially for the future when iPhone may become available on Verizon.
  • To use this device as a signal booster only, for your home or office, it's a one time purchase of $149 ONLY. NO additional monthly fees whatsoever.
    Why are so many people having a problem understanding this?
  • Would this also boost reception on non 3g phones like the olver razr v3s? My wife has one and I have an iPhone. We both have atrocious reception.
    Also to Gregg, your pretty proud of understanding that 30 day trial. I tried our phones for 30 days. 90 days later the phones went from good reception to complete garbage reception in the same house. How does the 30 day trial then protect anyone if the signal isnt consistent? I also show full reception in my area on the map and have virtually nothing now in my house. Yes, AT&T should provide this for free in a case such as mine.
  • Ad Hustler yes. That's a completely different story. If you reception has gotten worse. First thing to do is have them send someone out tonyour area to determine if they can or have moved an antenna. If they can't fix your situation they should consider, in your case giving you one to keep you happy. If they aren't willing to go that extra mile for you. The only other alternative is to cancel contract, and I have a friend that knows the ins and outs of getting you out of your contract without paying the ETF. He had 5 iPhones on AT&T and they waived all 5 ETF fees. So he knows how to do it and he's done it for many others. Or pay the $149 and mail the rebate in so your only out $49. And if your wifes Razr is 3G it should also increase reception.
  • Greg,
    Great response. You said everything I was thinking. Also, couldnt one opt for the $20 plan get the $100 rebate and then cancel the $20 plan after? If not that, at least use the $20 option for the time duration you would have otherwise paid the full $150 then cancel. I wonder if there is a term agreement for the $20.00 plan
  • "So if you have a weekend football party and have 5 people over with AT&T phones, " - dude, nights & weekend minutes are free anyway. ;-)
    I can see this being a good thing. I know a few people that have excellent coverage everywhere, except inside their own houses because they have houses that are built solid. That's not AT&T's fault.
    Also if you're at home and talk a lot, $20/mo for unlimited airtime is a good thing, especially if you downgrade your plan.
  • I hope everyone gets one of these. More bandwidth for me from the towers :)
  • I don't have unlimited weekends. I have 5,000. Not like I'm gonna use it. This may prevent the "I'm not going to Greggs house for football because I always miss calls" you never know. Anyway. It's $50 to have a perfect signal at your house. And for the people willing to pay the $50 just to keep their iPhone this is worth it to them.
  • Gregg, if you go out of your house, get in your car, and an hour later you're a hundred miles from your house; you have issues larger than spotty cell service- just sayin ;-)
  • Yeah you do Doug, that would be haulin ass. LOL..
  • I live in central NY state and they just rolled this out in our area. My friend and I both picked them up and they work great. Yeah, it sucks to have to pay for the microcell, but the price isn't exorbitant. I'll actually be able to save money in the long run since I'll get rid of my home phone. besides that benefit I can also cut my plan back since most of my calls will be made in the microcell's area.
    By the way, I'm one of those that get 4-5 bars and 3G outside my front door but get next to nothing or no service at all in the house. I think
  • I think it's well worth the $50 buy in and the $20 a month will be offset by what I'll knock off my bill by cutting back the minutes on my plan.
  • i live in nc and got one today and it works so good. i have no covage at home but now with m-cell its just like having perfect 3g service at home. about time at&t done somthing right.