Just when you thought it was safe to love AT&T again, we have another interesting tidbit about their famous 3G Micro-Cell, AKA the “rip-off box.”
As you recall, AT&T’s MicroCell is being marketed as a way to repair bad connectivity in areas with little or no AT&T reception including, but not limited to, basements, attics, Manhattan, and San Francisco. It essentially piggy backs on your own home network to provide data service and voice to your phone.
However, AT&T will still charge data used while in range of the Micro-Cell against your no longer unlimited data cap. This means that you’re essentially allowing AT&T to drop a cell antenna into your house, paying $150 for the privilege, and they get to use your data infrastructure to get voice and data back to their own fiber networks.
Dan Frommer writes:
AT&T explains the practice by saying there is a cost to handle the data transmission once it hits AT&T’s network, after it goes through your broadband pipe. (Likewise, it charges you for the voice minutes that you use over the Micro-Cell. But that’s a different service.)
So basically you’re paying AT&T for the privilege of using your phone. Straight up. While we all know your phone, like hair, is a privilege and not a right, this move again smacks of giving up. Microcells have been around for years, AT&T finally got around to selling them, and they’re basically riding the goodwill of an army of iPhone users who would actually like to use their phones in enclosed areas like their garage workshops, places of business, and some parts of North and South Dakota as well as most of Morgantown, West Virginia.
Again, call it splitting hairs, but this move is cold comfort to those who have been suffering with bad reception since 2007.
UPDATE – AT&T, ever vigilant, is aware of the issue but notes you will mostly be using Wi-Fi for data.
They note that: “Microcells require you have a wired broadband connection and our surveys show that around 96% of our Microcell users have a Wi-Fi router, as well. Wi-Fi is the optimal solution for home mobile data use.”
· 3G MicroCell is primarily intended to enhance the voice call quality experience in your home. While it can carry mobile data traffic, that’s not the primary solution it provides.
· Microcells require you have a wired broadband connection and our surveys show that around 96% of our Microcell users have a Wi-Fi router, as well. Wi-Fi is the optimal solution for home mobile data use. We encourage people to take advantage of Wi-Fi capabilities. That’s why all of our smartphones include Wi-Fi radios, and usage on Wi-Fi doesn’t count against your mobile data usage bucket if you have one of our new data plans.