Home » AT&T »Consumer News »Internet Overcharging »Wireless Broadband » Currently Reading:

Using AT&T’s MicroCell for 3G Counts Against Your Usage Cap

Phillip Dampier June 17, 2010 AT&T, Consumer News, Internet Overcharging, Wireless Broadband 5 Comments

AT&T 3G MicroCell

If you are an AT&T customer with a 3G MicroCell, AT&T’s home-based “cell tower”, take note: your 3G data usage, even while at home, counts against your monthly usage cap.

AT&T’s MicroCell ($150) does not use AT&T’s mobile network — it instead relies on your home broadband connection — but AT&T charges customers as if they were.

For customers who assume MicroCell traffic should be exempt because they provide and pay for the connectivity, AT&T’s overlimit fees await.

The company’s pricing and policies make owning a MicroCell increasingly pointless, particularly for data applications.  That’s because AT&T does not meter Wi-Fi usage, even when using AT&T’s own Wi-Fi network.

The disparity between femtocell traffic (the industry name for devices like the MicroCell) and Wi-Fi doesn’t make much sense to Dean Bubley, writing for his Disruptive Wireless-Disruptive Analysis blog:

Given that the RAN generally costs much more than the core network for most operators, there should clearly be differential (or zero-rated) pricing for traffic using femtocell offload. Either that, or there should be a mechanism for customers to charge AT&T for using THE USER’S broadband pipes for backhaul.

It is critical that any policy management and charging infrastruture is capable of discerning bearer type (which could also be UMA WiFi tunneled via the core on some other networks). Otherwise it makes a total mockery of the concept that policy is intended to align pricing with the underlying costs of service delivery.

It also makes a mockery of the femtocell concept as a mass proposition, if the end-user has to pay more than using their own WiFi. If I was a femto vendor today, I’d be spitting feathers about this, as it completely undermines the positioning vs. WiFi as an offload tool.

AT&T doesn’t care.

“The 3G MicroCell complements Wi-Fi by providing enhanced in-home voice coverage and reliable data when Wi-Fi may not be available — but it is primarily intended for voice calls,” an AT&T spokeswoman wrote in an email to Light Reading Mobile.

As the website notes, for consumers, the femto price model means that they will pay AT&T for the Microcell to get better indoor 3G coverage, pay for the backhaul connection to AT&T’s core network, and pay AT&T to use that indoor 3G base station.  What a great deal — for AT&T.

Currently there are 5 comments on this Article:

  1. Greg says:

    Amen. It is insulting that you pay three times to use the Microcell: to buy the device, to use your 3G voice/data allocation, and to use your own broadband connection (which may be metered, to wit).

    Either the device should be (virtually) free or the usage of it should be (virtually) free. Otherwise, this is an awful deal for consumers, no matter how you slice it. Shame on AT&T.

  2. Michael Chaney says:

    AT&T claims that they prefer you to use WiFi when available, but that their MicroCell provides a “complement” voice service. Well how about just letting me make VoIP calls over my home WiFi network and scrap the MicroCell altogether? Oh right, this is all about a money grab for AT&T and has nothing really to do with reducing their traffic load. That’s would just be a side benefit for them

  3. jr says:

    Greediness is Godliness to AT&T

  4. TM says:

    Triple-dipping is even more profitable than double-dipping.

Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

  • John: Yes February late? was announced in August at a presser with the governor....
  • Joe V: Maybe the management at Consolidated will do a better job of delivering internet to customers than the people who were running Fairpoint under the dir...
  • Rob: With Time Warner issuing their "all-digital" notice to customers this week to all the Rochester, NY news outlets, does this mean we can expect the upg...
  • Ryan: Frontier needs to be sued for false advertising of fios. They ran commercials on TV and radio that fios is here but in reality its not. We wanted fios...
  • Jim Dudenhefer III: See previous. 5:21 AM Central Time. Kansas City, MO. Cell # 816-560-0537. Land Line # 816-523-2309....
  • Jim Dudenhefer III: I live with and assist my 88 year old mother and 92 year old father. Both don't drive. Dad's mind is going and Mom's getting very tired as the main ca...
  • Ty: well hey on top of all of this I am sure more cable companies will adopt data caps. WOW! (my current cable company that overbuilt TWC here and I left...
  • Kim: I am currently paying TWC $180 a month for tv, internet, and home phone. I recently tried calling to have my home phone removed, since both my daughte...
  • James R Curry: No guarantee at all. But, as there's no contract commitment, you can at least cancel if they gut the line-up....
  • Required: Much more expensive than Hulu or Netflix, doesn't let you time-shift (VOD) all the shows/movies,, and doesn't solve the local news/sports problem, rea...
  • JayS: Looks like the era of the CVNO (CableTv Virtual Network Operator) has arrived. MVNO's have been terrific for the Mobile-phone consumer. We now have nu...
  • Gregory Blajian: A quick analysis for my wife and my entertainment situation is below. Getting Starz and MLB Network plus the A&E and Viacom family of channels mig...

Your Account: