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OttoPylot
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2014 ACE
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18.8K Messages

Mon, Nov 13, 2017 6:38 PM

MicroCell End of Life Has Been Announced

The official end of life for the MicroCell will be at the end of this year (2017). AT&T will stop selling the MicroCell except at Corporate Stores who still have them in stock. However, AT&T will continue to support the MicroCell for an unspecified period of time next year. Of course that will mean that most of the "support" will be trying to convince customers to upgrade their phones to WiFi-C capable phones. We will still be around as usual for support questions but don't expect to get much out of AT&T.

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AT&T Cell Booster Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

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*I am not an AT&T employee, and the views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.
OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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18.8K Messages

5 y مضت

@LarisaE - if you have internet issues (lags or goes offline) then you will definitely have MicroCell problems. The MicroCell needs to maintain a 24x7 secure VPN connection to the AT&T Mobility servers with a line that is clean enough for VoIP. Only your ISP can correct that. You can run a voiptest (voiptest.8x8.com) and post the results here. Run the test at a couple of different times during the day to get a better average look at your line quality.

nwhaynes

Teacher

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25 Messages

5 y مضت

My issue with them killing the Microcell and preferring wifi calling is that wifi calling with at&t is horrible.  It doesn't give you the option to prefer wifi calling over a cellular connection an although we can get a couple bars of LTE in spots in our house as soon as you move away from those spots your call drops because it doesn't switch to wifi-c fast enough to keep the call going.  I had planned on turning off my microcell but found wifi-c very unreliable because of this reason.

 

Also what about people who still use flip phones.  My brother-in-law for example has a company rugged flip phone that of course doesn't support wifi-c.  AT&T needs to keep the microcell around for these devices as long as they are still selling them.......  If they sell non wifi-c devices they need to have a solution for non wifi-c devices in areas without service.  I have 3 people who are regularly at my house who will have no cell reception when at&t turns off my microcell.

ACE - Sage

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100.1K Messages

5 y مضت

@nwhaynes  Agree.  ATT will lose a lot of customers.  T-mobile and Sprint have been bolstering their feeble coverage with mini towers, boosters and Wifi calling for a long time.  Even Verizon is still offering a mini tower and boosters.  But ATT shoots itself in the foot again.  

 

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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18.8K Messages

5 y مضت

@nwhaynes - AT&T is not turning off your MicroCell. They will just stop selling them online come Jan. 1st and end official support at the end of next year. The option to automatically choose cellular over WiFi is not AT&T's decision. That is purely a function of the phone mfr.

 

WiFi-C is, like the MicroCell, is not intended to be a full scale replacement for cellular. It's intention is to augment poor in-home coverage. Handing off has always been an issue, be it MicroCell to tower (and vice versa) or WiFi to cellular. However, in most cases, the handing off of WiFi is much smoother than the MicroCell. Some phones can handle that transition better than others.

 

My home is in a gray area in that the tower signal is just strong enough as to overcome my WiFi signal (as far as the phone is concerned) but not strong enough to give me a solid cellular connection. That's why we've used the MicroCell for years. However, if I place our phones in Airplane Mode to disable the phones' cellular radio, WiFi-C call quality is much better and the reliability far surpasses the MicroCell. Switching to Airplane Mode is certainly a hassle so we just continue to use the MicroCell with no issues at all.

 

The MicroCell was designed as a low cost alternative to a true cellular booster for poor in-home coverage, but that was over 10 years ago. Technology is moving forward and the MicroCell has not kept up (still 3G only) and the decision to not keep updating the MicroCell to current technologies is purely a financial decision. More and more people are getting the fancy new phones, and most of them have WiFi-C capability. WiFi-C is not only for poor in-home coverage it's also for areas outside of the home where the cellular signal may be weak or non-existent, but there is a WiFi signal strong enough to connect to.

 

I agree that the MicroCell issue sucks but I saw this coming a long time ago. As long as AT&T maintains the 24x7 secure VPN connection to the AT&T Mobility servers the MicroCell will still be around after the end of next year. But, if AT&T decides that keeping those ports and resources open can best be used elsewhere, that too will cease to exist.

 

Customers will either need to consider upgrading their phones next year or look into cellular boosters.

Gary L

ACE - Expert

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16.1K Messages

5 y مضت

When they finally stop supporting microcells might finally be the time when the open up WiFi Calling on non-AT&T phones.

 

 

nwhaynes

Teacher

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25 Messages

5 y مضت

@OttoPylot

 

"AT&T is not turning off your MicroCell. They will just stop selling them online come Jan. 1st and end official support at the end of next year. The option to automatically choose cellular over WiFi is not AT&T's decision. That is purely a function of the phone mfr."

 

This is not correct.  They are ending sales at the end of this year and ending support sometime next year which means my microcell will almost certainly stop working sometime next year.  As far as this being a function of the phone mfr this is also incorrect.  Both iPhones and Android phones that support wifi calling have the capability to prefer Wifi over cellular and it is available on Verizon and T-Mobile but AT&T has disabled it on their phones.  On iPhone they just use a carrier profile to do this and on android phones since they control the firmware of their branded phones they have just turned this feature off.  This is not a phone mfg issue this is an at&t issue.

ACE - Sage

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100.1K Messages

5 y مضت

End of Support doesn’t necessarily mean they will turn it off.   With the number of M-cells in use, ATT can’t do that.  There are “unsupported” m-cells in use by prepiad customers out there.  

 

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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18.8K Messages

5 y مضت

@nwhaynes - I disagree about the EOL. That does not mean AT&T will "flip the switch" at the end of 2018. It just means that they will stop support as in phone support. Yes, they will probably at some point in time break the connection but my guess is that the mobility server part will stay functional after 2018 as @lizdance40 mentioned using the legacy pre paid accounts as an example. Things move slowly in AT&T.

 

When AT&T first introduced WiFi-C, the iPhone was the only phone capable of that (iPhone 6). At that point in time, it was solely a firmware issue with the iPhone as far as connection preference goes. That may have changed with the carrier upgrades with each new iteration of the iPhone models and iOS. On my iPhone SE, which is an unlocked iPhone purchased from Apple,  there is no setting that I am aware of that allows me to automatically have the phone choose which connection technology to use. If I have WiFi-C enabled, and Airplane Mode off, the phone will always attempt to connect to the cellular tower signal (with the Microcell disabled) and not find my WiFi signal. It has been suggested that AT&T is in fact controlling the WiFi-C connection to "force" customers to upgrade to newer phones but I haven't seen solid evidence of that, even though I wouldn't put it past AT&T.

 

The bottom line is that the MicroCell is going away. Partially in the near future and probably completely sometime after 2018. The technology is old and can not keep up with the demands of modern home networks so WiFi-C is the next best thing outside of purchasing a cellular booster, which can be pricey but very effective. @lizdance40 is correct in that AT&T is going to lose a lot of customers over this, and it will be somewhat of a PR problem for them, but they just don't want to spend the time and resources on keeping it as a current viable option for poor in-home coverage. What they did instead was "modernize" the WHP (Wireless Home Phone) product so that it can also be used not only in conjunction with the MicroCell and wireless handsets, but as an internet connection as well.

ACE - Sage

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100.1K Messages

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@OttoPylot   Lol.  Like they “support” it now!   😆😆😆.  There is a reason I bought an M-cell off eBay and another off a forum member.   I’ve seen enough posts on here to know ATT has no idea how it works and didn’t know they sold such a thing.   

    

nwhaynes

Teacher

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25 Messages

5 y مضت

@OttoPylot

 

There is an option on the Verizon branded iPhone and the T-mobile branded iPhone.  I just saw it two days ago on someone's Verizon iPhone when I turned on their WiFi calling.  AT&T has taken it out with their carrier profile for some reason.

 

On my Galaxy s6 there was an option for this as well but again at&t disabled it in the menu so you couldn't toggle that feature on and off.  I used a settings editor on my s6 and was able to re-enable the feature.  It was present on other carriers version of the phone.  AT&T is purposefully not letting you enable the feature for some reason.

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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18.8K Messages

5 y مضت

@nwhaynes - as I said, if AT&T is purposely disabling that feature it's probably so they can hopefully sell more AT&T branded or locked phones. Our phones are unlocked and not branded but I don't see that feature so it probably was disabled initially when AT&T first rolled out WiFi-C on iPhones (the first phones to have it on AT&T and I think other carriers as well). It could be that AT&T is trying to grab more income via roaming or whatever so they make auto-WiFi-C difficult. Whatever the reason, AT&T is not going to change because the suits that make these decisions are out of touch with the customer needs/wants. The only option the customer has now is to deal with the current situation or move to another carrier that seems to be more in tune with the customer, for whatever that means.

 

I owe no special allegiance to AT&T and receive nothing from them so it makes no difference to me. My service has always worked well for so there's no reason to change. However, should we choose to do so we can just take our phones with us and enjoy whatever better options/features another carrier has to offer, if any. All of them, in my opinion, do whatever they can to "mess" with the customer so as to increase the bottom line. If you walk, you walk. They don't care.

OttoPylot

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18.8K Messages

5 y مضت


@lizdance40 wrote:

@OttoPylot   Lol.  Like they “support” it now!   😆😆😆.  There is a reason I bought an M-cell off eBay and another off a forum member.   I’ve seen enough posts on here to know ATT has no idea how it works and didn’t know they sold such a thing.   

    


True that. I wonder what AT&T will do if myself and @Avedis53 finally decide to stop supporting the MicroCell.

nwhaynes

Teacher

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25 Messages

5 y مضت

@OttoPylot even if you are using an unlocked iphone you are still running the at&t carrier profile so you can be on their network.  That carrier profile is what is causing that not to show up on your phone.

OttoPylot

ACE - Expert

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18.8K Messages

5 y مضت

@nwhaynes - doesn't make any difference how or why it's happening. AT&T is not going to change it so you'll just have to deal with it. Sounds harsh I know but there is nothing we can do here in the forums. Maybe if enough people write to AT&T and complain they'll listen and change the profile.

nwhaynes

Teacher

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25 Messages

5 y مضت

@OttoPylot I realize there is nothing that can be done here, I am just saying that it makes wifi calling practically worthless and and not a viable alternative to the microcell until they let you do that.  The only suggestion I have seen anywhere is to turn your LTE setting to Data Only and that doing this might cause it to switch to wifi calling more consistently but I haven't tested it.  I am happy to keep chugging along on my mcell until they shut it down.  Once they do that I will likely find a different carrier.

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