Yesterday AT&T announced the national roll out of their 3G MicroCell, beginning in mid-April.  If you are not familiar with the AT&T’s MicroCell let me explain it briefly: the device allows people to route wireless calls and data through their home broadband connection.  AT&T is going to charge customers a one time fee of $149.99 […]
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AT&T what am I going to do with you?

Yesterday AT&T announced the national roll out of their 3G MicroCell, beginning in mid-April.  If you are not familiar with the AT&T’s MicroCell let me explain it briefly: the device allows people to route wireless calls and data through their home broadband connection.  AT&T is going to charge customers a one time fee of $149.99 for the purchase of the MicroCell.

You can manage the device on their website and add up to ten lines allowing access to the MicroCell, but only four lines can use the MicroCell at one given time.  In addition, AT&T offers an optional $19.99 unlimited monthly calling plan with the device.  The calling plan is designed to let you make unlimited calls through the MicroCell without it affecting your monthly minute plan.  If you purchase the plan, AT&T offers a $100 rebate towards the purchase of the MicroCell, effectively costing you only $50.  Another incentive offered by AT&T, if you purchase their broadband connection (1.5mb or higher) or U-verse, you are eligible for a $50 rebate towards the MicroCell.

The Problem:

I think the entire idea of AT&T charging customers to improve their network is ridiculous.  Where I currently live AT&T only offers an EDGE connection.  So let me get this straight, AT&T wants to charge me $150 to use my internet connection so I can make wireless calls from home.  Ultimately, I am helping them charge me for service I pay monthly for to begin with.  I already pay my cable company for my internet connection and now I am going to get charged to let AT&T use it.  This is crazy!  For me this only solves the problem at home.  As soon as I leave the house I will be back roaming on EDGE and searching for a local WiFi spot to send a picture.

My next problem I have is AT&T charging people $20 for unlimited calling through the MicroCell.  I currently have a family plan through AT&T and as of today have 4,522 rollover minutes.  There would never be a reason for me to purchase the additional plan and I am sure I am not the only one.  AT&T simply needs to get their act together and provide its customers with the 3G service we already pay for every month, but cannot use.

You should check out AT&T’s site for the MicroCell because the videos are pretty amusing.  In the videos they actually admit how bad the service is in some areas.  The male actor tries to get a signal holding his phone out the window like a “human antenna”.  I have actually done this before. You can check out the videos here.

The Solution:

The first solution is simple, AT&T should provide the MicroCell for FREE to any customer currently not in a supported 3G area.  If AT&T showed some good will towards helping out customers, it would really help their reputation in the long run.  I feel like AT&T is trying to make money on a problem they have created and by offering the MicroCell to customers for free will help out.

Second, AT&T is charging you when Skype is free.  I can easily use the Skype app on my iPhone to place calls over WiFi.  Even if I purchased a Skype plan it would only set me back $2.95 per month for unlimited calling compared to the $20 AT&T is getting away with.

Final Thoughts:

My hope is for people to realize AT&T is trying to capitalize on a situation which frustrates customers.  Some people will be willing to pay the money just to get working service at home when really AT&T is just routing calls via your internet connection and charging you for it.  So if you are listening, Ralph de la Vega, do something and give already paying customers what they really deserve: a free MicroCell.

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