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3/26/2010
00:47 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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AT&T Rolls Out Nationwide Femtocell Plan

If AT&T is your network of choice but your reception at home isn't the greatest, you should be able to sign up soon to get your very own femtocell, or Microcell as AT&T likes to call it. By using your broadband internet connection, you'll be able to have fast data transfer speeds and solid voice quality in and around your house. It isn't free though. Far from it.

If AT&T is your network of choice but your reception at home isn't the greatest, you should be able to sign up soon to get your very own femtocell, or Microcell as AT&T likes to call it. By using your broadband internet connection, you'll be able to have fast data transfer speeds and solid voice quality in and around your house. It isn't free though. Far from it.Some people have AT&T because that is what their company uses, or they wanted the iPhone, but if they live in an area where AT&T's coverage is weak, as some rural areas are, they were often out of luck. The company I work for in my other life was based in New Jersey and AT&T was a good choice for that market. After relocating to southern California though, less than half of the people had any kind of usable reception in their homes, though they could stand outside and talk all day long. We switched to Verizon because there was no other choice. Now that Microcells are becoming available, it gives an alternative to those that haven't switched or may just leave their phone at the office.

The Microcell simply connects to your wireless router via a CAT5 cable. You have to activate it with AT&T but that is designed to be easy for the average customer to do. You then let the Microcell know which phones you want to allow on the network. It can handle four phones simultaneously but it can remember ten total devices so when friends or family visit, they can take advantage of the stronger signal.

According to AT&T's press release, the device will have a one time cost of $149.99. There are some bundling options so you could get it for $100, $50 or even free depending on the additional plans you buy. See the details in the press release.

Your existing data and voice plans work over the Microcell, so when you are talking, it subtracts from your plan's minute bank. That makes no sense to me since it is using your broadband network connection to transmit the voice, not the carrier's towers and infrastructure. I suppose they do that so some will fork over an extra $19.99 for the unlimited talk plan to go with the Microcell.

Major markets should get the devices in mid-late April and other markets over the next few months. If you click the "Availability" tab on AT&T's Microcell site, you can enter your zip code to see if it is available in your area yet.

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