It’s no secret that AT&T’s cell network sucks (and, yes, that is the scientific term for the state of the company’s infrastructure). Fortunately, AT&T has come up with a solution to dead zones and overtaxed circuits: The AT&T 3G MicroCell, a router-like device that will let you experience the magic of using your mobile phone in your very own home! Of course, magic doesn’t come free — or cheap. AT&T is testing the MicroCell now, and is charging subscribers $150 for the box, plus $20 a month for the magic of, you know, using your own freaking phone in your own damn home.
AT&T isn’t the first mobile provider to offer an in-home base station; T-Mobile and Sprint have similar devices. But T-Mobile’s solution gives you unlimited calling on your landline for $10 a month, and Sprint’s Airave is, well, actually it’s just as bad as AT&T’s Microcell, though the fees are slightly lower. AT&T’s $20 monthly fee basically gives you access to the company’s 3G network over the internet, using your ISP. As Gizmodo puts it:
If you are in a particularly bad spot, the 3G MicroCell will let you run your calls and data through your internet connection rather than over their shit network. Where do they get off charging for this? Femtocells will actually reduce the load on their networks. It shifts the traffic over to the internet provider you’re already paying for (which I’m sure ISPs will just love). How does this earn AT&T $20 per month?
Of course, it will likely earn AT&T $20 a month many times over, given the number of people who do have spotty access at home and are locked into long-term iPhone contracts. So, get on the waiting list now, and you too can pay to help AT&T reduce traffic on its network and avoid having to build new towers.
3G MicroCells: AT&T Wants You to Pay Extra to Fix Their Own Failures