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:

  • Ginny: Frank Sinatra is dead....
  • Peter Herz: This is mostly accurate except that they're not doing the 4G LTE throttling as of Oct 1st 2014 major announcement....
  • Drema: Jack I have had Frontier for years. Only provider available in my area. It doesn't work right and has never worked right. I work from home and I need ...
  • Brittney ward: I'm currently standing at Comcast trying to have this exact issue resolved. If anyone has any helpful advice I would very much appreciate it. I am als...
  • WalterH: So the new business speeds were announced - and they're awful. 75/10, 150/20, 500/50, and 1000/100 are the NON-SYMMETRICAL speeds. Like businesses d...
  • John: I just noticed on my most recent invoice Shaw is increasing my BB 250 from $120 to $130 Jan 1st 2015. That's over an 8% increase while I'll HOPEFULLY ...
  • Scott: For corporations at that size they typically expect a 10-20x return on every dollar spent (that's at the very low end) lobbying the government for ben...
  • StrykerX: I really don't think they have to much to worry about in this regards, as Comcast typically will incorporate services and usually expands upon them wh...
  • Phillip Dampier: Here in upstate New York, part of the northeast division, there is a pretty clear line between different metro areas - Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, A...
  • Ian L: Seven areas isn't exactly an "only" proposition; remember that TWC upgrades entire markets at a time. So when Austin was upgraded, so was Fredericksbu...
  • Ian L: That assumes that Comcast will immediately "harmonize" tiers to their more expensive/slower options. Judging by the fact that they're pushing their st...
  • mattf: I've actually been pretty happy with TWC customer service and the internet service they get to my house, so I'm against the merger. I emailed the C...

Your Account: