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  • $20 unlimited iPhone calling from AT&T 3G MicroCell?

    Image via SlashGear


    Late last night our friends at Apple Insider reported that AT&T customers who reside in poor service areas may soon have the option to pay $20 to obtain unlimited calling over 3G using their own Internet access.
    AT&T hasn't yet set a retail price on its forthcoming new 3G MicroCell appliance, which connects to your existing Internet to supply local 3G voice, SMS/MMS, and data coverage for nearby AT&T customers. However, a report by Engadget Mobile attributed to an anonymous tipster says that the company plans to offer an unlimited calling plan for users for $20 per month.
    The report comes on the heels of news on Friday from Zacks Investment Research revealing that the 3G Microcell is expected to launch in "the next week" with the full roll out taking place by year's end. AT&T's Microcell, which functionally performs as a tiny tower to boost 3G reception, is rumored to likely first appear in select markets including Atlanta, San Antonio, and Seattle.

    Bundled with AT&T-supplied Internet (if available in your area), the monthly fee drops to $10, and with AT&T Internet and landline service (if you also pay to have one of those old plug-in type phones), the monthly fee goes away entirely.
    For now, speculation about $20 extra per month doesn't seem too far out of line with what little industry standard already exists. Sprint, for example, markets Airave for $5 per month (or $10 with unlimited calling) while T-Mobile serves up unlimited calling through its HotSpot@Home service for a monthly fee of $10.

    It all points to additional evidence that carriers are opting to rely on femtocells to increase consumer coverage and satisfaction rather than investing further in beefing up already overloaded networks.

    The 3G MicroCell does not create a VoIP alternative to AT&T's network; it simply tunnels 3G voice and data over the user's existing broadband Internet service to AT&T's servers, which process it like any other call handled by its existing 3G cell towers.
    But is $20 per month too much to pay for better coverage in AT&T's many dead zones?
    It's not clear if the monthly fee for unlimited wireless calling through the device will be mandatory in order to obtain the 3G MicroCell device. According to the photo of official looking marketing collateral included in the report, "3G phones connected to the MicroCell without AT&T Unlimited MicroCell Calling continue to use existing plan minutes."
    Although it's been slow going so far, a flurry of activity from AT&T is widely anticipated in the next few weeks to push the 3G MicroCell devices out to the masses. With the arrival of MMS and the iPhone's "voracious data demands," customers are growing restless and eager for a lifeline. For them, $20 per month may not be too terribly high of a price to alleviate the frustration born of shoddy coverage in numerous markets.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: $20 unlimited iPhone calling from AT&T 3G MicroCell? started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 66 Comments
    1. Rescuer's Avatar
      Rescuer -
      please fix that last quote, it's not mine
    1. Rokesomesmeefer's Avatar
      Rokesomesmeefer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rescuer View Post
      please fix that last quote, it's not mine
      Whoops!
    1. StevenB's Avatar
      StevenB -
      *sigh*

      Now they do this...a few weeks ago I was getting ready to wall test my phone because I (later found out) happen to live in the middle of two cell towers though I am more towards the Edge tower so my signal will always be Edge and not that good. I finally got home phone service.

      Might be worth it.
    1. Zeal's Avatar
      Zeal -
      Too bad theres no 3g anywhere thx ATT
    1. jayson9's Avatar
      jayson9 -
      It basically comes down to this, if you have Good Internet high speed service and poor 3G reception than it may be good for you. And. If you are willing to pay for something you should already have as a AT&T 3G/3GS customer. However my experience is that I don't have either.
    1. A_DuB187's Avatar
      A_DuB187 -
      I think it's a decent deal. The device needs to have good security though, I mean who wants to pay for this so that all the people that live around them can get better service too? Hell no! If I was to get this it better be my phones ONLY that get the benefit and if that cant be done then there's no way in hell I would use it.
    1. Rescuer's Avatar
      Rescuer -
      Quote Originally Posted by A_DuB187 View Post
      I think it's a decent deal. The device needs to have good security though, I mean who wants to pay for this so that all the people that live around them can get better service too? Hell no! If I was to get this it better be my phones ONLY that get the benefit and if that cant be done then there's no way in hell I would use it.
      it has security...
    1. NissanGoddess's Avatar
      NissanGoddess -
      I would buy this in a heartbeat!!
      I have crappy service in my house, when will it be released in Arizona??
    1. Limegrntaln's Avatar
      Limegrntaln -
      This thread has become as lame as every other microcell thread on every blog everywhere. Its filled with people making their own opinion and guessing what this thing offers.

      Its a cell repeater yes. It uses your current internet bandwidth to provide signal INSIDE your house for 5000 square feet. Its $150 with a $100 mail in rebate in the current market being tested. So end cost is $50. IT COSTS NOTHING MONTHLY!!! If you have 450 minute plan, thats what you use over your Microcell. If you have 450 minutes and The unlimited plan over your microcell, while you are in your house your using your unlimited minutes over the device. If you make a call in your house, walk out the door and out of the Microcell area. The call is handed over to the cell tower, and as long as you dont hang up the call that originated over microcell you arent using any "plan" minutes. So if you originate a call in your house, get in your car and drive 100 miles away, as long as you dont hang up the call, you are still using your unlimited Microcell minutes. As soon as you hangup away from your microcell and initiate another call your back on your plan minutes.

      For people that have a microcell with 4 phones in the house its $20 a month for unlimited calling over the Microcell regardless of what calling plan you are on as long as you are in the Microcell range. You can have a football party invite people over to the house. Provision their phone to work on your Microcell and they can make calls all day long without using their minutes. if they walk out the door talking on the phone and live 50 miles away they are on your unlimited plan until they hang up. Who cares its unlimited. They are using the tower, but are still on your unlimited plan till they complete the call. Each phone needs to be provisioned to work on the cell. Your neighbors wont be stealing your bandwidth. Its only 5000 foot coverage. Its a godsend if you have 4 phones and use a majority of your minutes at home. Unless you call internationally like with Vonage you can drop the $49 a month unlimited landline and use this at home all the time without burning up any plan minutes, which you can use when you are away from your Microcell. Its ingenius

      If you have AT&T internet, you get the unlimited minutes for $10 a month. If you have AT&T Internet and an AT&T landline (which would make no sense) your Microcell gets unlimited for free.
    1. boe_dye's Avatar
      boe_dye -
      @reefersmomesome

      no, I really do get it... you pay AT&T to use their gadget over your Internet access in order to justify the fact that their 3g network simply isn't as good as they claim...

      perhaps tough your right... it's not a repeater...

      it's a glorified repeater...
    1. Limegrntaln's Avatar
      Limegrntaln -
      You pay one time to buy it. Use your current cell phone minutes and if you dont need it dont get it. AT&T isnt forcing it down your neck. If you dont have bars in your house but you do outside your house. AT&T cant do anything about that. This is a one time cost.
    1. shnarfin's Avatar
      shnarfin -
      Why is everybody whining? It says it's free if you have Internet and home phone with AT&T for the unlimited plan. It also says the unlimited plan is OPTIONAL. you don't have to pay monthly if you just want better coverage. If you want unlimited calling from the microcell then it's the fee, whtlether that be $20,$10 or free.

      You are going to need this once the FCC starts regulating wireless data. Your next door neighbors will be streaming movies over their 3G devices and you won't be able to call out because the carriers will have to treat all traffic the same. Who says a 911 call is more important than my sling player...remember all traffic will be equal by law. At least this way you can control who uses your tower.
      So everyone just stop complaining if you can't afford a free service. Stupid.
    1. Happy Noodle Boy's Avatar
      Happy Noodle Boy -
      Also, Sprint and Verizon (and I think T-Mobile as well) have similar microcells. In fact, Sprint had a deal going where if you brought a Palm Pre and found you had crappy reception where you lived, they'd give you one.
    1. zoti's Avatar
      zoti -
      Quote Originally Posted by Happy Noodle Boy View Post
      Also, Sprint and Verizon (and I think T-Mobile as well) have similar microcells. In fact, Sprint had a deal going where if you brought a Palm Pre and found you had crappy reception where you lived, they'd give you one.
      And that is exactly what AT&T should do.
    1. todanator's Avatar
      todanator -
      Why should we pay for AT&T to fix their own crappy network coverage?
    1. joemamawilder's Avatar
      joemamawilder -
      If I was in a situation where my cellular service wasn't good, or non-existent, in my home i would go in a different direction if it will cost $20 or even $10 per month.

      Since you must have a broadband connect, you already have internet. For calls, I'd opt for something like magicJack or some other VoIP.

      If the price is announced to be $20/month, that seems like quite an expense on top my cellular and internet bill, which are both needed for the MicroCell.

      Cheers
    1. akosko01's Avatar
      akosko01 -
      Quote Originally Posted by southfrisco View Post
      For MY home calling area:

      -VZW coverage is the same as AT&T but they are CDMA and I depend on GSM networks for global service
      -TMobile coverage is terrible and spotty in my area
      -Sprint is worse than TMobile and no GSM
      -Pay as you go carriers have small and limited coverage, I use my cell daily so would not save much with this option

      What am I left with for my specific needs? No choice but AT&T. Now they want to charge their paying customers for their 3G network shortcomings and save some money while they are at it. Other carriers do this and it is not right.
      So what you are saying is that for your specific needs att has everything you need and you are complaining. Of ALL the carriers in the United States AT&T gives you the best option and you are still B!Tching about it. And AT&T is not doing anything different from the industry standard. if anything they just copy what everyone else charges for.
    1. GIRLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL's Avatar
      GIRLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL -
      Quote Originally Posted by todanator View Post
      Why should we pay for AT&T to fix their own crappy network coverage?
      duhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, it's your fault you don't get reception in your house. That's why they're making you pay for the microcell and they're going to use your internet too. And if you're "lucky" enough to have AT&T "broadband" they'll throw you a freebie for already charging you out the nose.

      Of course, I barely understand the allure of this thing. If you don't already have Highspeed internet and a calling plan, you can get yourself a phone line through Vonage for $24.99 or any other VoIP operator, use your WiFi (increased battery life anyone?) and still wouldn't need to plop down $20 a month for unlimited calling through this thing.
    1. the sr5's Avatar
      the sr5 -
      this should be something ATT pays us for, i would have no problem hosting this for ATT and having people in my Area use it, because clearly if you live in a dead zone your not the only ATT customer that cant get cell service, in turn your neighbors are going to be steeling it as well. if they want to pay me 20$ a month then sure...