I have been struggling with mediocre reception at my house for several months now and it seems to have coincided with the introduction of LTE service in this area.
At the beginning that LTE service was spectacular however, it slowly degraded to a point that if anyone called at home on our cell phones they were immediately asked to call on our home phone. Data wasn’t an issue because the phones use the home wi-fi network for data purposes.
I knew about the AT&T MicroCell when it came out and apparently a lot of folks received free versions of the device because of a documented history of poor reception in their homes or businesses.
The AT&T MicroCell uses your home Internet connection to carry your cellular calls out to the greater cell phone network. At a minimum it needs 1.5Mbps down and 256 Kbps up to function.
To get the device it is just a one time fee, typically $150 plus tax, and then the MicroCell uses your current plans minutes and data plan when connected to the device at home. There is an option for unlimited domestic MicroCell Calling if you do not currently have an unlimited plan. You can get a rebate of $100 on the device if you go with this plan.
I spoke with AT&T Support on Friday – a conversation I started via Twitter to their support account @ATTCustomerCare – and arranged for a MicroCell to be shipped to the house.
That device arrived yesterday and I eagerly opened up the box and started the setup process.
Getting things started is very straight forward:
- Place the MicroCell near a window as it must be able to pick up a GPS signal so that E911 services know your location for any emergencies.
- Plugin the provided Ethernet cable into your router and then the back of your MicroCell.
- Plug the power adapter into the wall and the back of your device.
Next step is to visit http://www.att.com/MicroCell-Activate to walk through the on screen instructions to start the activation process.
During these steps you will provide the following information:
- MicroCell serial number (on the device and the box).
- Agree to the terms and services
- Verify your address
- Setup your initial settings for the Microcell’s nickname and the authorized users. The authorized users default to any phone numbers on your current wireless service plan. Up to 10 authorized users can eventually be added if necessary.
At this point the activation process should begin and can take upwards of 90 minutes to have you online with the MicroCell.
I did have to reach out to AT&T tech support via chat because I was having some issues with the activation process and according to the rep they had been experiencing some intermittent issues on the MicroCell management website.
The tech got the process finalized after verifying some of my info and it was time to wait as the MicroCell site indicates it can take approximately 90 minutes from this point for the device to go into service.
About 25 minutes after the activation process had begun the MicroCell was online and feeding a very strong cellular signal to our phones. According to AT&T this device should cover about 5,000 square feet.
Here is a little proof in the pudding of the difference that this device is making around our house.
These two screenshots were taking in the same spot – one before activation and one afterwards.
As you can see the service is identified on my Windows Phone tile as AT&T MicroCell to let me know where the signal is coming from.
If I need to leave the house in the middle of a phone call I can do so without dropping the call because the system will handover the call to a cell tower once I am out of the MicroCell’s range. Unfortunately, it can not do the same thing when I come home.
Just having a strong signal at home is great for so many reasons and now there is no longer a need to ask people to call on the home phone due to poor reception.
Have you tried the AT&T MicroCell to address receptions issues? How is that working on your end?