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Some Details on AT&T's 3G MicroCell

Mon Jan 26, 2009 - 8:33 AM EST - By Jennifer Chappell


Overview

We reported back in November that AT&T would begin trials and be jumping on the femtocell bandwagon, following Sprint who has the AIRAVE, and Verizon with their Ubicell.

Our sister site WMExperts posted an article yesterday letting us know that Verizon's femtocell is now available and is called the "Network Extender".

Phil Nickinson at WMExperts said:

While the principle is the same as Sprint's AIRAVE the router-looking piece of hardware uses your broadband Internet connection to spit out a short-range cell signal the pricing is different. Instead of paying, say, $100 for the hardware, then a monthly fee for the service, Verizon's Network Extender costs $250 up front, with no monthly fees.

I've been anxiously awaiting more news on AT&T's femtocell solution as I have horrible coverage in my area. Several times last week, I had some dropped calls and there were times when both my iPhone and Centro had no service at all. Grrr!!! This crap is getting old.

According to a recent Engadget Mobile article, some tipsters have pointed to a site launched on AT&T's domain for its 3G MicroCell, so hopefully we're going to see a product launch soon. As Engadget Mobile pointed out, you can see from the pic of the 3G MicroCell that the unit is Cisco branded, compared to Sprint and Verizon going with Samsung for their femtocell products.

As I read on through the article, my heart sank because I discovered that this MicroCell wouldn't work me for since I STILLL have NO 3G!!! Yep, seems that it will only work with 3G phones as femtocells are more difficult to manage in a 2G GSM environment than in CDMA and WCDMA.

But hey, I sincerely think it's great for all of you who have 3G and who could benefit from the 3G MicroCell. Engadget Mobile reported that the MicroCell will cover up to 5,000 square feet, allow up to four simultaneous voice or data connections which are locked down to keep out nosy neighbors.

And another plus for you AT&T folks who are on 3G, you'll be happy to know that the femtocells offered by Sprint and Samsung are only good for 2G coverage.

So, let's mosey on over to the AT&T 3G MicroCell website and have a look around.

First up, just what is an AT&T 3G MicroCell?

AT&T 3G MicroCell acts like a mini cellular tower in your home or small business environment. It connects to AT&T's network via your existing broadband internet service (such as DSL or cable) and is designed to support up to 10 3G capable wireless phones in a home or small business setting. With AT&T 3G MicroCell, you receive improved cellular signal performance for both voice calls and cellular data applications, like picture messaging and surfing the web for up to 4 simultaneous users.

Device Features:

  • Enhanced coverage indoors - supports both voice and data up to 5000 square feet.
  • Available unlimited minute plans - Individual or Family Plan.
  • 3G handset compatible - works with any AT&T 3G Phone.
  • Up to 4 simultaneous voice or data users supported.
  • Device is secure - cannot be accessed by unauthorized users, easy and secure online management of device settings
  • Seamless call hand-over - start calls on your 3G MicroCell and continue uninterrupted even if you leave the building. Sweet!

Device Requirements:

  • 3G wireless phone/device *BooHoo!*
  • Broadband service over DSL or cable
  • Computer with internet access for online registration

Additionally, the site states that it's strongly recommended that you install your device near a window to ensure access to Global Positioning System (GPS) as a GPS link is needed to verify the device location during initial startup. Plus, the 3G MicroCell device is portable. You can move it but the new location needs to be within the AT&T authorized service area and properly registered online.

No word on pricing or when the 3G MicroCell is coming out. We'll be watching though so stay tuned.




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