AT&T's MicroCell Can Help Improve Indoor Coverage

September 30, 2009
Eric Zeman

Do you have poor cellular reception or coverage at your office? If so, the MicroCell from AT&T can help. It effectively provides 5 full bars of coverage in any small office.

Do you have poor cellular reception or coverage at your office? If so, the MicroCell from AT&T can help. It effectively provides 5 full bars of coverage in any small office.

Cellular networks are not perfect things. Many factors play role in how well they cover a specific area, including topography, vegetatio,n and building structures, as well as distance between the cell tower itself the end user, and how many people are accessing a particular cell tower at any one time. If you're looking to maximize performance in your small office, the MicroCell is one possible solution.

The MicroCell acts a a miniature cellular base station. The set-up is simple. Buy the MicroCell from AT&T for $150, take it to the office, plug it into your office broadband connect, and let the software do its work. The MicroCell communicates with AT&T via your broadband Internet connection rather than through AT&T's own wireless network. The MicroCell will provide 5 bars of coverage for both voice and data traffic for up to four smartphones at a time. This means you and three coworkers can have amazingly good reception at the office all the time.

There are some drawbacks. First, you still have to pay your normal monthly voice and data fees. Second, the MicroCell needs to be able to access GPS systems, so it has to be placed near a window. Third, only four devices can access the MicroCell—meaning if your office has five or more employees, not everyone will get the advantages of the improved coverage. Fourth, AT&T is offering unlimited talking with a MicroCell—but only to those willing to pay an additional $20 per month. Last, the MicroCell is only being sold in Charlotte, NC—for now.

AT&T says that the device is current in consumer trials in Charlotte. Price points are subject to change, and the device will eventually be available elsewhere.

If you're a Sprint or Verizon Wireless customer, you can get a similar product called the UbiCell, which is made by Samsung. T-Mobile subscribers can also improve coverage with the T-Mobile hot spots and Wi-Fi-equipped smartphones.

The bottom line here is that if your office doesn't have great wireless coverage, solutions are out there. Talk to your wireless carrier to find out which will work best for you.