11-14-2012 06:36:45 AM
The reason I'm asking is that this entire forum is filled with people having trouble with Microcells and I'm wondering - is the Microcell just a terrible product/service that is nothing but trouble? Or are there people out there for whom it works fine, but anyone not having problems has no reason to post on the forum, and therefore we only see complaints?
11-14-2012 09:59:15 AM
I had some issues a couple of years back (when they were first introduced) and that's what brought me to this forum. I resolved my issues and stayed around to offer any help that I could.
My MicroCell has been rock solid thru numerous power outages (self induced and weather related), updates, etc. I just bought an iPhone 5 (iOS 6.0.1) over the wekend, walked into my house, and it immediately connected to the MicroCell and works better than my old Samsung phone ever did. No configurational changes needed on either the iPhone or my MicroCell account. Speed is fine, messaging (text, pics) is fine, hand off from tower to the MicroCell is trouble-free, call clarity on either end is the best I've heard, and we can have two iPhones (mine and my son's 3GS) making/receiving calls at the same time with no issues at all. I can walk all around our property, inside and out, with no loss or degradation of service.
To be fair though I don't think AT&T field tested the MicroCell well enough before they released them. Too many customer variables out there to work well for all of the different types of connections/hardware. They also need to step up the customer support aspect so that the 1st and 2nd tier folks are fully versed on the issues and are kept in the loop on updates/issues/fixes.
11-15-2012 07:51:06 PM
I have had been using a Microcell for 2+ years and have had a very good experience. I have had the iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, and 5 all connected simultaneously seems to work fine. Even had the occasional Blackberry connect without any issues. It is installed exactly as directed in the manual and just works! No problems in 2 years. I could not use a cell phone inside my home without the Microcell and I'm thankful the technology is available.
There are a variety of items that seem to cause people issues upon installations. There are a few common themes to many of the complaints and most can be solved by proper installation. They include:
Location of the Microcell: It cannot be installed within 5 feet of an existing wi-fi access point, or microwave. These sources of RF will interfere with the Microcell. Also, the Microcell must have a GPS lock 100% of the time. It should be installed near a window, or in a place where an external GPS antenna can be connected (I have another thread on how to use an external GPS antenna including part numbers). The GPS signal will penetrate some roofing if there are not metal objects or metal roofing material in the way. If the 3rd light from the top is blinking, it does not have a GPS lock. It must have a GPS lock 100% of the time.
Networking issues: There are many folks out there who are not able to properly configure their home router to comply with the requirements of the Microcell. This is a user problem and not a Microcell problem. When in doubt, install the system in a "pass thru" configuration by plugging the cable modem or DSL modem directly into the Microcell, and then connect the rest of the network to the Microcell. The instruction in the Microcell manual are clear on this type of install.
In general, It seems that most people do not post to this or any forum when they are "happy" with a product. I believe this is why there are so many posts indicating problems.
Hope this helps!
11-15-2012 08:28:46 PM
I agree with most of what was said. This should be a plug and play device and for most, it is. Myself included. FWIW, I have a dense metal roof and GPS lock etc is not a problem. But, the MicroCell is within 18" of the window etc etc. Priority connection (modem-> MicroCell -> router) is the easiest and best way to check connectivity. If that doesn't work, it's either the MicroCell or the ISPs modem or connection. The MicroCell Troubleshooting Guide that I posted the link to is a good place to start and covers a lot of basic setup issues.
11-19-2012 06:53:33 AM
Once I figured out that you NEED a clean GPS signal, the Mirocell has worked fine for over two years. I did have that delay call problem but that has been resolved for over a year now.
11-19-2012 08:50:02 AM
11-19-2012 08:56:08 AM - edited 11-19-2012 08:56:33 AM
I wonder why a GPS signal is so important. I can't figure out what GPS has to do with VOIP.
I just answered that about 10 seconds before you posted GPS signal is needed at all times for 911 and more importantly, for nearby tower location to hand off the MicroCell signal to. Speaking of 911, for any cell phone call you should always use the 10-digit 911 number, not 911 because of the way 911 cellular calls are handled. 911 should only be used for landline-based calls.
11-26-2012 09:28:16 AM
Also, what's a 10 digit 911?
11-26-2012 10:53:06 AM
Ah! But since the Microcell stays in the same place usually, shouldn't it just assume the last GPS lock is current instead of just refusing to work? Especially if the last lock was within minutes.
Also, what's a 10 digit 911?
You would think so but there may be a periodic "check in" by AT&T to make sure that the MicroCell hasn't been moved from place to place, which you can do but you have to re-register it for the new location (winter home/summer home, that sort of thing).
In Calif. (and other states/areas I assume) the 911 Emergency Number also has a regular, 10-digit phone number associated for each area code. For example, where I live the 10-digit (actually it's 11-digits now) 911 Emergency Number is 1-408-277-8911. That's the number that Emergency Services wants you to use if you are calling from a cell phone. Emergency 911 cell phone calls (by dialing 911) are first routed to the local California Highway Patrol Dispatcher (which introduces a time delay) before the call is picked up and re-routed to the appropriate area code 911 dispatcher. If you have a VOIP service (like Vonage for example), dialing 911 from a cell phone will get you to the 911 dispatcher (the same person as a landline call) but there is a delay before your exact GPS coordinates (your address) are loaded from the VOIP service to the 911 dispatcher. Probably not very long but a delay none-the-less. Some VOIP services are allowed to share the GPS database so there's no delay but you need to check with your VOIP provider. Obviously if you are outside of your appropriate area code there's going to be a delay but you need to check with your local Emergency Services to find out exactly how 911 calls in your area are handled by landline, cell, and VOIP.
11-26-2012 07:38:30 PM
Some additional information that may help. The GPS signal is utilized for at least two purposes (possibly more) by the Microcell:
1.) for location detection for E911 emergency services
2.) to allow the Microcell to choose which frequencies are licensed by AT&T and can be legally used in the area. Since the unit operates on the same frequencies as the Macro cell towers, it must operate within the licenses owned by AT&T. These licenses vary from region to region.
It has been speculated that the atomic clock signal embedded in the GPS signal as recieved from the satellites is also used for timing purposes to allow the data packets to synchronize between the microcell and the nearest macrocells for handing off calls, but I have not found any hard evidence for or against this point. However, it does make sense that this might be needed.
The unit does need a continuous GPS signal to operate, and it can be placed near a window or away from a window using an extension cable and external GPS antenna. GPS signals are broadcast from the GPS satellites on 1.5 GHz. Wood & metal can absorb the signal at this high frequency which is why moving the unit only a few feet in a direction or near a window can make a big difference. When you want to place the unit away from a window, get a an external GPS antenna and save yourself the frustration. If the unit loses its GPS lock, it will stop functioning. It's not a defect, just not clearly communicated in the Microcell documentation.