AT&T has finally made an official announcement and launch to its long-rumored femtocell device, the 3G MicroCell.
Femtocell devices are essentially miniature cell towers that plug into your home or office network and then uses your Internet connection to route phone calls that make with your compatible cellular phone while in range of it. These devices are used to help increase coverage inside of buildings where your coverage may be spotty due to being too far from a tower, or there is just too much interference due to the building itself, such as being in a basement or in the center of an office building.
AT&T is the last of the four major carriers in the United States to release a femtocell device, and considering the complaints many people have had about AT&T’s service in some cities for their iPhones, it has been a much needed release. While it may be the last one to market, it is the first and only one to support both 3G data and voice services.
Users of the device can select up to ten lines that can connect to the device, and four of them may be using the device at any time. For those that don’t want to use minutes from their normal plan, you can pay $19.99 a month for an unlimited plan for individual or Family Talk customers. If you don’t want to pay the monthly fee, you can use minutes from your normal account, and those are only deducted from the phone making the call.
The MicroCell costs $149.99, but there is a $100 mail-in rebate which will effectively bring the price down to $50. If also purchase a new line of broadband service with AT&T (DSL or U-verse 1.5MB or higher), you will be eligible for another $50 mail-in rebate which would make the device free. If you go this route, and choose not to sign up the unlimited monthly plan, then you would be able to use your phone in your home without any signal problems, and be doing it at no extra cost.
Many critics have said that femtocell devices are a bit of a waste as carriers should just build enough towers to provide enough coverage everywhere, but as someone who lives out in the country, in a densely wooded area, give me my femtocell device. I choose to live in the middle of nowhere, and now being able to get five bars in my basement thanks to my Sprint AIRAVE, I am more than happy to have purchased it. Sure it would be nice to have coverage absolutely everywhere, and if you are in a major city, you have a point, but for those of us out in the rural areas, it just doesn’t make sense.
What say you? Are femtocell devices a good idea or not? Would you, or have you already, purchase one?