Saturday, May 22, 2010

The AT&T 3G Microcell

...and yet another reason why I suck.

About a month ago, my friend Andy posted the following status update on Facebook:
Andy has full bars at home with the at&t microcell.

Dick and I knew that Andy has an iPhone and that he had problems getting good coverage at home, so we were intrigued. What was this Microcell thing, and how could we get one? Andy said all we had to go was go to AT&T and give them $150. ;)

Last weekend, at my Grandmother's birthday dinner, my Uncle Rob told me about how my cousin Kenneth had recently installed the Microcell device at their home in Cupertino, and his place in San Francisco. He said it made a huge difference in their coverage at home.

Last Tuesday, at Cousins Dinner, Kenneth and Cheri both told me about how much the Microcell changed their lives.

All were singing the praises of this device.

What is it, you ask?

It's the AT&T 3G Microcell. You plug it into your internet connection (modem or router) at home and it increases your signal strength (to 5 bars, or so it claims) within a range of 5,000 feet.

Okay, sounds good.

Dick and I have been on the AT&T network for our cell phones for years. Unfortunately, we don't get coverage in our house, or in our backyard. Rendering our cell phones virtually useless in our own home. It's very frustrating.

I realize the irony here, and so should you: I'm willing to pay $150 for a device which will allow me to actually use a service that I'm already paying (a LOT) for, and which should already work?! Seems crazy, right?

We are all in agreement here. It is crazy. But the fact of the matter is that no, I can't use my cell phone at home, and if spending $150 once allows me to use it correctly, well then.... I you can afford it, I guess it's worth it. (she said, rolling her eyes)

Everyone that I talked to about it: Andy, Uncle Rob, Kenneth and Cheri, all swore by it, and said it is most definitely worth the money.

So, I was sold.

I was down in Milpitas Thursday afternoon, and popped into the AT&T store in McCarthy Ranch and plopped down my $150 bucks.

Dick and I had to go to Best Buy today to buy a new switch - no more open ports on our router. We came home, we set it up. we waiting the 45 minutes that we were supposed to before trying it out....and...

...well, I didn't notice a difference. My reception still seemed iffy at best, and I was fluctuating around 2 bars.

Power Cycle.
When in doubt, Power Cycle.
Craddock's First Law of Debugging

Still no difference.

Read the manual: it says that rather than just saying AT&T next to the bars, my phone should now read "AT&T Microcell".

Hmmmm.. that's not happening...

...and then it occurred to me: what was this 3G in the title of this device, and written all over the box?


My iPhone is not a 3G phone!

I most definitely have the oldest iPhone version of anyone what I know! I still have my trusty-rusty First Generation iPhone! You know, the one I proudly bought nearly 3 years ago! The one that still runs off of the Edge network, not off of 3G!!!


Looking back, I'm pretty sure I asked my Uncle about whether or not the Microcell was compatible with non-3G phones, and he didn't know. I should have thought to ask the AT&T guy when I bought it.

Although the funny thing is, when I asked him about the Microcell device, he did say, "Well, there's one thing you should know. It does require that you have the internet at home."

Seriously? I thought it was a funny thing for him to ask (and he was serious!). But wouldn't it have been more helpful if he also made sure that I actually had a 3G phone as well?!

Our story doesn't quite end here.

Yes, there's still a little more lameness coming your way:

Dick has a 3G phone. We should be able to test it on his phone. But we can't. Not yet, at least.

"Why?" you ask? Because Dick played golf with Andy yesterday, and he accidentally left his phone in Andy's golf bag!

We suck.

Truthfully, I have been saying that this is the year that I'd be buying a new iPhone. 3 years is long enough. (I do tend to hold onto my tech gadgets much, much longer than most of my friends.)

This just gave me one more reason to plan to buy a new iPhone when the new models come out. When is that? July?

Maybe then I'll be able to see if this Microcell thing actually works. ;)

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