12:49 PM
Connect Directly
Repost This

AT&T's MicroCell Boosts Cell, 3G Signals

The wireless carrier's femtocell device is basically a miniature cell phone tower for the home.

AT&T began selling the MicroCell Monday, a femtocell device aimed at boosting voice and 3G data signals indoors.

The MicroCell is essentially a miniature cell phone tower that uses the customer's home Internet connection to connect to AT&T's network. The device can support up to four voice or data users at once, and subscribers can switch between the MicroCell and AT&T's regular network without interrupting the call.

The MicroCell contains a GPS chip that can be used to verify its location during setup. Security features prevent the device from being accessed by unauthorized devices. AT&T also has created an online portal for MicroCell customers to set up, activate, and monitor their device.

AT&T is currently selling the device only in the Charlotte, North Carolina market; the price is $150. Users can get a $100 rebate if they sign up for a $20 monthly plan that provides unlimited calling for subscribers within the femtocell's range, the carrier said. AT&T stressed that the company is taking a hard look at the pricing structure during the trial period, and pricing may change if the MicroCell is sold nationwide.

AT&T is not the only carrier looking at femtocells as a way to increase subscribers' coverage area. Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless have also released hardware that uses the subscriber's home Internet connection to boost cell phone signals. AT&T's hardware is unique because it is the only device that supports 3G data boosting.

It is unclear how strong the market is for femtocells, but a report from ABI Research indicates the space won't really get going until 2010. Subscribers trying to get home coverage will likely account for a sizable portion of the market, but multiple companies are also eyeing femtocells as a way to provide fixed-mobile convergence.

Get all the data from this year's InformationWeek 500 survey free for a limited time. Our report examines business and technology best practices as well as IT investment trends among the nation's most innovative IT users. It also provides industry comparisons against which you can benchmark your company's strategies. Download the report here (registration required).

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Elite 100
InformationWeek Elite 100
Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Elite 100 - 2014
Our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue -- our 26th ranking of technology innovators -- shines a spotlight on businesses that are succeeding because of their digital strategies. We take a close at look at the top five companies in this year's ranking and the eight winners of our Business Innovation awards, and offer 20 great ideas that you can use in your company. We also provide a ranked list of our Elite 100 innovators.
Twitter Feed
Audio Interviews
Archived Audio Interviews
GE is a leader in combining connected devices and advanced analytics in pursuit of practical goals like less downtime, lower operating costs, and higher throughput. At GIO Power & Water, CIO Jim Fowler is part of the team exploring how to apply these techniques to some of the world's essential infrastructure, from power plants to water treatment systems. Join us, and bring your questions, as we talk about what's ahead.