AT&T MicroCell 3G: Salvation for Your Crappy Reception Is $150, No Strings AttachedS

Sure, we kinda think AT&T's cell-reception boosting MicroCell 3G should be like, free, since it's using your pipes to route calls, but I suppose this is about as swell as we could've hoped for—$150 with no monthly fee.

A femtocell, briefly, is sorta like a mini cell tower—it hooks into your broadband connection, and amplifies the cell signal inside your house. The difference between AT&T's MicroCell 3G and Sprint's Airave femtocell, which is $100 plus a mandatory $5/month fee, is that the AT&T MicroCell also transfers data, not just voice. (Though I'm not sure why wouldn't just use Wi-Fi in your own house.) Still, the AT&T femotcell works out cheaper over the course of the year. Up to 10 lines can be setup to use it, and 4 can use it simultaneously.

It counts against your minutes while you're using it, unless you spring for unlimited MicroCell minutes, which is $20 a month for individuals or families. That's a bit crappier than Sprint's pricing, which is $10/month for an individual line, and $20 a month for multiple. But, you get a $100 mail-in/rebate, making the MicroCell $50 in that scenario. And if you buy U-Verse or AT&T DSL at the same time, you can knock another $50 off making it free. They start rolling out next month, but it's going to take until the end of the year before they're available everywhere. I pray dearly SF and NY are on the very tip top of that list.

AT&T* today announced that AT&T 3G MicroCell plans to begin its national roll out beginning in mid April, with new markets activating in cities across the continental U.S. for the next several months. AT&T 3G MicroCell is an innovative solution that allows residential customers to route wireless phone calls and data connections (or sessions) across a home broadband connection. This solution is designed to benefit customers who live in homes that have coverage impediments that consistently interrupt wireless spectrum, such as dense wall and roof construction or unfavorable terrain.

AT&T 3G MicroCell is the only femtocell to support both 3G data and voice services. Developed in conjunction with Cisco and in a public trial in select markets since September, AT&T 3G MicroCell is available for a one-time cost of $149.99.

Consumers with AT&T 3G MicroCell will be able to easily activate the device the same day it is purchased, thanks to easy, self-install instructions. Technical support is available for customers who need it.

Consumers manage AT&T 3G MicroCell though their online MyWireless account at www.att.com/mywireless. Through this online management, only those phones chosen by the customer may use the MicroCell. Customers may define up to 10 lines to have access and up to four may operate on it simultaneously. Minutes used through the MicroCell affect only the account of the phone making the call – there is no requirement to purchase separate service for the 3G MicroCell.

In addition, AT&T will offer a companion rate plan option for MicroCell customers – especially customers on Family Talk plans — who want to supplement their existing voice plans. For $19.99 a month, individual or Family Talk customers can make unlimited calls through a 3G MicroCell, without using minutes in their monthly wireless voice plan.

Consumers who select 3G MicroCell calling plans at purchase are also eligible to receive a $100 mail-in-rebate toward the purchase of AT&T 3G MicroCell – effectively making the device about $50. Customers who also purchase a new line of broadband service with AT&T (DSL or U-verse 1.5MB or higher) are also eligible for $50 via mail-in-rebate– effectively making the device about $100. If a customer is eligible for both rebate options, the customer will be able to get the device for $0, after mail-in rebate.

For more information on AT&T 3G MicroCell, visit www.att.com/3gmicrocell. For the complete array of AT&T offerings, visit www.att.com.

[AT&T]