07-23-2013 06:50:30 AM
I have 2 questions about buying a microcell:
1. My home is in Connecticut. I have a summer house in upstate New York and I have no AT&T cell coverage at my summer house, although weak AT&T tower coverage is available about one mile away. Can I buy a microcell to use only at my summer house? My billing address is in Connecticut. I understand that for 911 purposes the microcell needs to understand that it is in New York. Can I have a "location address" for the microcell in New York, and still have my billing address in Connecticut? It's not clear to me. I do not want to set up a microcell in Connecticut then move it to New York (although I could do this if necessary). I want to only use it in New York.
The FAQ says this: "Yes, your device can be moved to another location provided it is within the AT&T wireless authorized service area. A device move requires an update to your location address in your AT&T 3G MicroCell account profile for the device to function and for 911 purposes. Please go to www.att.com/3GMicroCell and select the "Manage Settings" tab"
Looking through the posts it seems like the microcell needs to have the GPS location the same as the billing address, is this correct? Or can the GPS location be set to a different address than my billing address?
2. I have zero signal cell tower signal in New York. Does the microcell ever have to see a cell tower signal to complete the set up?
07-23-2013 08:49:06 AM
For initial activation to take place, the MicroCell's GPS coordinates have to match the physical address of the account holder (which is the primary cell phone number on the account). After that, the MicroCell can be moved to another physical location and used as long as the primary phone number does not change and the GPS coordinates can be confirmed at the new location (you have to change the address on the activation page). The GPS coordinates at that point in time are needed to confirm that the location is in an AT&T service area so you have to have an AT&T tower covering that area.
As far as 9-1-1 goes, it's always best to program the 10-digit emergency phone number is your cell phone and use that instead of 9-1-1. Cellular 9-1-1 calls are usually re-routed to the local dispatcher which may take time. Using the 10-digit number instead is like dialing 9-1-1 on a landline. You can dial 9-1-1 on your cell phone thru the MicroCell but there still may be a delay getting to a dispatcher and then having him or her pull up the exact GPS coordinates.
07-23-2013 10:33:06 AM
Thanks. Good advice about calling emergency services directly.
I can certainly do the initial activatation of the microcell at my home in Connecticut then move it to New York, if that will work. I assume that if I change the microcell address that does not change my billing address.
You say: "The GPS coordinates at that point in time are needed to confirm that the location is in an AT&T service area so you have to have an AT&T tower covering that area."
If I look closely at the AT&T coverage map of my New York area, the AT&T coverage map is spotty across the town since there are lots of hills by the lake. The map looks like the closest coverage to my summer house is very slightly outside of the map coverage nearest to me. I get zero bars unless I climb a tree. That's why I want to know if the microcell needs to get any type of signal from the cell towers in order to activate. I don't think that is the case.
thanks for any advice you can give
07-23-2013 11:05:30 AM
Changing your address on the activation page doesn't change your billing address. The billing address is really only needed for the very first activation to take place so that AT&T can confirm that you are an active AT&T customer and that you have an account/billing address. After that, as long as you don't change your cell phone number, your address on the activation page is only needed to confirm the GPS location of the MicroCell. Sometimes the GPS coordinates don't match what AT&T has in their locational database (rural area, new sub-division, etc) and that takes a call to support to straighten it out.
The MicroCell is not a VOIP device, so it still needs a local tower. Coverage maps can be very deceiving because they only show theoretical coverage based on signal propagation and really have nothing to do with signal or call quality, especially at the fringe areas.
It sounds like you may have some difficulty getting reliable MicroCell coverage due to location. How's the internet connection for the location in New York?
07-23-2013 01:16:12 PM
OK, good news about the billing and location addresses.
I have excellent internet service in New York using the local telephone provider (might be Frontier). I need to check the speed of my internet service to make sure it is fast enough.
However, I thought that the microcell was a VOIP device and therefore did not need a local tower to communicate with. I thought that it acted as a sort of miniature cell tower, and the microcell communicated to and from my cell phone by RF signal. Then the voice signal both ways was routed through the microcell to/from my internet provider and into the AT&T network somehow. In this way, it actually decreases the cellular traffic on the local towers. It increases the traffic on my internet link.
Otherwise wouldn't the microcell need a fairly strong transmitter to contact a cell tower from a fringe area? If I need a local tower with enough signal strength for the microcell to communicate over RF to and from the tower, it won't work. My phone drops to zero bars when I get close to my house.
Or do you mean that it somehow connects, via the internet, to the closest local tower and into the AT&T network? I don't understand. I hate to buy one and not have it work.
07-23-2013 02:48:57 PM
Without going into a lot of the technical details (some of which I'm still learning about) the MicroCell does need to have a local tower nearby because your call will go thru that tower even tho you are connected to the AT&T servers for your area. That's why some folks have difficulty with their MicroCells after a severe storm that has affected the towers in their areas. Their internet may work but their MicroCell doesn't. I have a conference call this afternoon with the other ACEs and AT&T support and a more definitive explanation of how it all works is on my agenda to discuss with them, so maybe I'll have something a little more clearer and not so vague by then.
I do know that when you first activate the MicroCell it looks for the tower signal strength and adjusts its output so as to not interfere with the signal. The MicroCell, in theory, has to be the dominant signal so that your phone will work in your house and then hand over to the local tower when you are out of MicroCell range and within tower range.
Realistically, you should have an internet speed of at least 3.0Mbps/512kbps for the MicroCell to work reliably. I think the specs given are lower but what's been reported here seems to indicate that 3.0/512 is the real minimum.
I have never noticed a performance hit on my LAN even if we're streaming a movie, someone else is playing an online, game, surfing the internet, and talking on one of the mobiles at the same time. However, there a specific conditions that need to be met as far as the internet connection goes and that seems to be where folks have initial problems. And, to add more confusion, some mobile phones play nicer with the MicroCell than others. The MicroCell is also 3G only so don't expect 4G/LTE speeds.
07-24-2013 08:39:41 AM - edited 07-24-2013 08:40:44 AM
Not to hijack this thread, but I've seen it said several times that a MicroCell has to receive a signal from a local cell tower to function properly. However, for days after hurricane Sandy we had no cell service in our area, yet when I was powering our house with a standby generator, my MicroCell worked fine and calls via cell phone were normal in and out.
For whatever it's worth. Or not.
07-24-2013 09:01:29 AM
That is interesting.I was always told by AT&T that a local tower was necessary for the MicroCell to work (verifying service area, calls, etc). Maybe they have some sort of emergency protocol that allows cell phone calls to be re-routed to a functioning tower in cases like that. I do have a series of questions that was submitted to AT&T Support last night at our conference call so I will add that specific question when I hear back from them. You have peaked my interest and no, you didn't hijack this thread because your post was pertinent to the discussion.
07-24-2013 09:06:28 AM
It also came back to me that in the past, when I was trying to find the ideal location for the M.C. in our house, I gave it a try in our basement. Zero cell tower service down there but the M.C. still functioned normally.
I'll be intersted in any further technical details you're able to learn.
07-24-2013 09:17:18 AM
That is very interesting. I'm thinking that even if you don't have tower signal in your location (as detected by your phone), the MicroCell takes the signal that it has paired with your mobile device, and using the interent, sends that data to the local tower for propagation to the AT&T network (but the tower still has to be local to you). I just pm'd the admin for last night's call with the tower question so we'll see. Nice to see you back posting here again. It's been quite awhile.
07-24-2013 10:02:04 AM
The M Cell aboulutely does not need a local tower to work. It will work fine with no over the air signal. In fact it works better if there is no tower signal to interfere with it. Also you can initially set up the M Cell at an address that is not your billing address; I have done it several times setting up M Cells for customers.
07-24-2013 10:15:26 AM
08-07-2013 08:27:13 AM - edited 08-07-2013 08:27:57 AM
Your timing is good I heard back from them yesterday. Most of the answers did not to go into the level of detail that I wanted. In fact, the question about macrocell (tower) location I asked further clarification on. I do have an 11 page document that I've just about finished on technical, operational, and troubleshooting the MicroCell that I will be hopefully posting next week sometime. But, to answer you questions.......
The MicroCell is definitely a VOIP device. I didn't think it was because of the relationship to a tower but it is indeed a VOIP service. A tower close by is needed, but not necessarily required, for the MicroCell to work. A little vague but I go into more detail in my document. I'm hoping to get further clarification from AT&T on that.
As long as the MicroCell is registered to a current AT&T mobile number (the primary account), you can move it from location to location as long as you are in an AT&T service area. You need to change the address location of the MicroCell for GPS purposes but, in theory, as long as the primary account mobile number doesn't change, moving it to another location shouldn't be an issue. There are caveats on that but again, I go into more detail in the guide that I'll be posting. GPS is one of the key factors for a properly functioning MicroCell.