Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Home Microcell Towers... No Thanks

Over the past several months I've gotten a number of promotions from AT&T touting their microcell devices, which are designed to improve cell phone reception in a small areas such as a home or office. AT&T service on my iPhone is terrible in my house, which is an annoying problem that I'd like to solve. However, these microcell offers are kind of irritating.

Ultimately, health is my biggest concern with the microcell. If standard cell towers have been linked to cancer, why would I want a miniature one in my home? I don't know much about the health issues, but they do linger in the back of my mind regarding microcells.

As a frustrated customer, I feel like poor coverage is AT&T's problem and the microcell solution is an effort to position network holes as my responsibility to fix. I'm generally a results oriented person (or at least try to be) so the blame game wouldn't normally be that important to me, but these feelings are exacerbated by AT&T seemingly attempting to make money off my patching of their network.

AT&T will sell me the microcell device for $150. If I'm not mistaken the device works by broadcasting a cell signal that is converted into VOIP. This means that the microcell is using my networks' bandwidth. While I certainly don't use all of my bandwidth all the time, VOIP is bandwidth intensive and call quality quickly degrades when it gets tight, so in addition to the cost of the device, I may need to buy more bandwidth.

If the microcell is offloading traffic from AT&T cell towers near my home to my home network, shouldn't my calls be free? Well, only if you pay $20/mo for unlimited microcell calling. I guess I don't mind using minutes from existing plan, but, for me, an extra $20/mo would never work out as a good value considering that most of my calls at home are nights and weekends anyway.

Maybe I'm being a little harsh on AT&T with this last point, but $20/mo really feels like they are trying to profit from their network problem. If I'm going to be forced to buy the device for $150, go through the hassle of setting it up in my home, risk getting cancer from it and provide bandwidth I want the unlimited microcell minutes to clearly be an outstanding value. Free would of course be ideal, but I could probably be satisfied with $5/mo. If MagicJack can provide unlimited VOIP calling for $20/year, I definitely don't think AT&T should be charging $20/mo.

Admittedly, I don't know what AT&T's costs are on providing microcells, but it feels more like a profit-center than a loss-leader to me. Customers that need microcells are probably unhappy with their AT&T service. Microcells could be great customer retention tool, but getting bombarded with marketing materials asking me to spend money to fix their problem is just building more frustration on my end.


At May 23, 2010 11:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cell Phone Health Issues.
I am sensitive to cell phone radiation. Effects include headaches, patch of suntan on my leg after leaving my phone in my trouser pocket for a couple of days, tingling fingers, warm ear, etc, etc.
So I have reduced use of my cell phone to an absolute minimum, wired my house with ethernet to minimize wi-fi radiation, learned how to detect whether my body is being affected by cell phone radiation, blah, blah, blah.
I don't know about microcell towers, but if you compare use of iPhone with radiation from a normal tower in the UK, the effect of the radiation from the iPhone seems to be considerably worse (there are reasons for the qualification). This is probably due to the effect of the inverse square law being greater than the higher output from the tower - don't quote me.
There is a talk with suggestions about cell phone safety on the Dr Mercola website, which might be of interest. Type iPhone into the search field. It's not his best by any means, so don't be put off by that but there are some useful tips. Type iPhone into the search field to find it.
Regards Laurence

At July 04, 2010 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First thing you said - "I don't know about microcell towers..." Than why are you afraid of what you don't know?

Dude, opinions are like a-holes, we all have them but that doesn't mean we wanna hear about yours.

At July 05, 2010 12:04 AM, Blogger Andrew Fife said...

July 4th Anonymous:

I love it! Great comment! Who's opinion should I give on my blog? Definitely made me laugh.


At October 24, 2015 1:58 PM, Blogger bigbadkal said...

Maybe I am too close to my microcell but every time I turn it on I feel ill , cloudy. I turned it off I feel better, like clockwork. A few times of that makes it pretty clear. But I live off grid away from most white noise and I'm sensitive to electromagnetic anyway but there's a pretty clear connection here. Not A welcomed connection mind you I was very happy to finally get reception, but this makes it pretty clear. But I live off grid away from most white noise and I'm sensitive to electromagnetic anyway but there's a pretty clear connection here. Not welcomed mind you I was very happy to finally get reception but only turn it on when I have too .


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