Update to AT&T Microcell

In the course of the last 2 weeks, I have been testing out the AT&T 3g microcell to see if it would improve my cellular service in Brooklyn, NY. After 2 weeks, I have to say that I am generally pleased withe the device. Here are some of the pluses:

1. It generally “just works”
2. Aki and my iphones switch to the microcell almost immediately when we come home (as they should)
3. The voice service is VASTLY improved, and I have not dropped a call since I had the microcell.

Now for the negatives:

1. On day one, the microcell connected at first and worked great. It immediately proceeded to lose its GPS signal (which is required for the device to work) and took hours to reconnect again. This has not happened since day one, but I am always wondering why it happened at all….
2. AT&T is seriously saying that the data usage over the microcell counts against your phone’s data plan. This is insane, evil and is the definition of double dipping (especially if AT&T is your ISP).
3. Because of the problems on day one, I tried out a new router. That was a complete fiasco, and the router was returned IMMEDIATELY. The thing is, I the microcell is kind of picky about routers and firmwares. This could lead to future problems and compatibility issues. I am, for example, unable to get the microcell to work with any router I have except my Linksys WRT54-GL. This router has been a workhorse, but it is lacking many of the advanced features of modern routers, and I don’t like having to run an N access point in my house as well as the G just to have coverage. I can not pinpoint the problem here, but it has to do with the devices talking to each other.

In summary and closing, I have to say that I am happy with the microcell, and would recommend it to others who have problems with connectivity on their AT&T phones. However, here is an interesting anecdote to think about before you decide to drop the $150 on the microcell. My friend Serge got the new 4th generation iPhone the other day and came over to my house for a few beers over the weekend. We looked at his phone and he had 5 bars in my house!! He was not connected to the microcell, but rather to the AT&T local tower. He had no problems making calls either. I am happy that the new phone works better, and would think about updating, however, this is really shifting my blame from 100% on AT&t’s shoulders over to Apple’s. If the new phone works, and the old one doesn’t is it really AT&T who is at fault?