Explore & discover

Helpful Links

Microcell doesn't improve reception

Highlighted
Teacher

Microcell doesn't improve reception

We received a free AT&T micro-cell about two years ago from the AT&T store in New Braunfels, TX. We live near the city limits, which would be considered out in the sticks. And have always had bad cell phone reception. The micro-cell has not helped any since we initially set it up and we have a few hot spots in our house with decent reception but mostly it's cell phone dropped calls in most of the house. It's gotten to the point where I was prepping to reset the micro-cell and start from scratch. Because it's gotten worse lately; especially since my wife and I are able to work from home a lot more lately. There's not much worse speaking to someone from your work's compliance area and loosing the call and conversation. I was disappointed to read in another post that AT&T may be doing away with the micro-cells by the end of 2018.  So I have a few questions:

 

1) should I even bother to trying to reset it and start from scratch?

2) we use WiFi calling also and it hasn't helped with reception even though we have a strong WiFi signal in our house from our AT&T router/modem for Direct TV & uVerse

3) should we get a WiFi-booster that AT&T has for roughly $39 and will that help?

4) should we move back to the city (San Antonio) which we are considering doing anyways because of the commute and traffic jams during rush hours?

5) seriously, the micro-cell reset is my main concern and I'd like to get that fixed and running correctly if I can

 

Can anyone offer any help on resetting the micro-cell and is it even worth trying? Or should we try to resolve our reception issues using WiFi calls even though we've tried that and it hasn't seemed to help?

Thank you!

1,353 Views
Message 1 of 12
ACE - Expert

Re: Microcell doesn't improve reception

@JMinNB - How the MicroCell works is explained in my Tech Guide (see link in my sig ling) along with lots of other information.

 

Rural areas are always very difficult because of tower location. Even tho the MicroCell does not need the tower to transfer/receive calls it does need the tower for GPS location checks, adjusting MicroCell output strength. In theory, the further one is away from a tower (up to a certain point), the stronger the MicroCell output and vice versa.

 

The MicroCell is designed for land-based internet service (not satellite or wireless broadband) but it sounds like you have a cable or DSL and not satellite. If your internet service is DSL, then there are other factors that may impact how well the MicroCell will work. Your internet service can be fine but your line may not be clean enough for VoIP which will usually result in call quality issues, which I suspect is the case. Resetting the MicroCell (instructions for a proper reset are given in my Tech Guide) may help but if it is a line quality issue, a reset won't fix that. 

 

Sales of the MicroCell was discontinued at the end of 2017. AT&T claims they will continue support for the time being but I'm not sure what that will mean for this year and beyond. The service will eventually be discontinued altogether but there is no time frame that I am aware of yet.

 

WiFi-C (WiFi Calling) is what AT&T, and us recommend now. It is much more reliable with far better call quality than the MicroCell. To successfully use WiFi-C, you should disable (power off) the MicroCell. The reason being is that your cell phone will preferentially seek the 3G cellular signal, to which your phone is registered to, and not your WiFi signal, which will cause issues. If you still have issues with WiFi-C with the MicroCell disabled, it is more than likely your WiFi signal or the way your phone handles WiFi-C.

 

The MicroCell has nothing to do with WiFi, so a WiFi booster (which is probably a bit sketchy for $40) wouldn't probably help much. Setup WiFi-C with the MicroCell disabled and see what happens.

 

A cellular booster would probably help but they are expensive and it takes some work on your part to decide which one and configuration would work best for you (as long as you are able to get at least one to two bars of cellular signal). See my Cellular Booster Guide (link in my sig line) for a primer on how they work and what is involved.

 

What kind of internet service do you have? Is it typical cable or is it DSL?

What are your speeds?

Have you tried WiFi-C with the MicroCell disabled?

What kind of phones do you have?

Test your line quality at voiptest.8x8.com and post your results here (an explanation of voiptest results is given in my Tech Guide).

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

*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.
Message 2 of 12
Teacher

Re: Microcell doesn't improve reception

Hi Otto, great nickname BTW. Thank you for the detailed response. I will check the links you sent. To give you a little more background and details, plus answer your questions, let me add this. We live on the city limits line of New Braunfels, TX but enjoy all the basic city services and AT&T landline services. This includes water, sewer, electricity, AT&T landlines along with Direct TV satellite for our TV viewing needs. For internet, we have an AT&T uVserse router/modem (526ACFXN) connected with Cat 5 cable. The Direct TV is totally separate from our internet service with uVerse. uVerse is supposed to provide 18 Mbs of download speeds. Our micro-cell is a Cisco DPH-154 provided by AT&T. I currently cannot connect through it online so I will reset it to factory defaults and reset it with AT&T.

 

I have an iPhone 8 for personal use and a 7 for work. My wife has an iPhone 7 for both. Almost all of the phones have been replaced in the nearly two years we've had the micro-cell. But the phone numbers have not changed. And all of  our software updates are up to date.

 

I will take up you suggestions of comparing the reception using the micro-cell vs the WiFi calling. And see what works best. We should have 4G cell phone service with AT&T with the phones alone using the cell phone towers.

 

However, with either of the three methods we can connect to cell service use with hot and dead spots of reception in our house. Mainly, the two corners of the house nearest the city, outside back patio and the garage have the best reception. However, even in those places, we can be connected to a cell phone call and loose voice reception both ways while maintaining a cell phone connection. Or we suffer dropped calls alot. Usually, its one person can hear the other but the other cannot hear the person talking. It's been really frustrating. This is with all three methods of connecting with cell phones, cell towers alone, micro-cell or WIFI calling.

 

As I mentioned, we don't really live in the sticks (country living with septic tanks, satellite dish and water wells; but live on the edge of a fairly large city (population roughly 70k). And have a few cell phone towers near our house.

 

So I think I'll try to reestablish the micro-cell connection and check for firmware updates, try the WIFI calling separate from that with the micro-cell turned off, and just try using the cell phone tower reception alone.

 

I'd appreciate your thoughts on the extra information I provided. Hopefully, I answered all of your questions. And would appreciate any help you or others can provide. This has been really frustrating; and we're actually thinking about moving back to San Antonio. Not just for this issue but also because of the extra commute time to work and the horrible traffic everyday. We live near the 7th largest city in the US but it has the infrastructure still from the 1980s. And the new road and highway expansions and overpasses are designed by people that I doubt are engineers. Or if they are engineers, they are very bad one. Thank you again for your help! jm

 

 

Message 3 of 12
ACE - Sage

Re: Microcell doesn't improve reception

@JMinNB

Since it sounds like Wifi calling is having similar issues as the microcell, the common thread is your internet.  The deterioration may be due to aging hardware.  The modem and router have a typical 5 year lifespan.  You might troubleshoot those devices as well as service.  

(The following is included after all posts to save typing) I don’t work for AT&T. My replies are based on experience and reading content available on the website. Our answers are honest, but not always appreciated. If you posted personal information, please edit and remove.
*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.
Message 4 of 12
ACE - Expert

Re: Microcell doesn't improve reception

@JMinNB - I really think your WiFi issue is your WiFi router. WiFi-C will be subject to any issues that affect WiFi in general. Your internet connectivity may be fine but quality VoIP is another issue. Most ISP-supplied equipment is not the best (imo) so I've always opted to purchase my own, at least on the router side of things.

 

WiFi-C does use 2 of the same 4 ports that the MicroCell uses so if there are any issues with those ports, you may have WiFi-C issues. When you setup WiFi-C on your iPhones, make sure that WiFi Assist is disabled. It has nothing to do with WiFI-C but it can cause issues if enabled. I've always left WiFi Assist disabled on our iPhones.

 

There are no new updates for the MicroCell. If you power it off and back on again, the MicroCell will go thru the Initial Activation sequence, part of which is looking for updates but there haven't been any for a very long time and I don't expect there to be any in the future.

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

*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.
Message 5 of 12
ACE - Professor
Solution
Accepted by topic author
Accepted by JMinNB
‎05-28-2018 9:28 PM

Re: Microcell doesn't improve reception

I agree with Otto.  If you're having reception issues using WiFi-C in your home then it's most likely due to poor WiFi coverage being provided by your router.  A better router or mesh network would most likely clear up the dead spots and dropouts you are experiencing.  

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by Otto Pylot


I am not an AT&T employee.

*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.
Tags (1)
Message 6 of 12
Teacher

Re: Microcell doesn't improve reception

Avedis53 and Otto, thank you for your help and feedback! I'll look at the router and connection for it and see if there is an issue there. And if needed, take care of those issue with the router to see if it solves the WIFI-C issue. If not, I'll look at a mesh network as another alternative. No sense in spending a lot of time and effort on the micro-cell if it's a dinosaur.

 

And I'm not sure if the mesh network will provide a good replacement router that will work with AT&T uVerse, but I'll look into that also.

 

You two have provided some very great and useful information. Hopefully, it will help me solve our issues and help other too. Best of luck for continued success on being leaders of providing useful information on this community.

 

Best regards,

jm

Message 7 of 12
ACE - Expert

Re: Microcell doesn't improve reception

@JMinNB - I use an Orbi mesh system and I believe that @Avedis53 uses the Eero. Both have their pros and cons but both of us are very happy with our systems. However, both of us use WiFi-C now and coverage, reliability, and voice quality of both systems for WiFi-C is excellent.

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

*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.
Message 8 of 12
ACE - Professor

Re: Microcell doesn't improve reception

A mesh network can provide better coverage in a home that is large or laid out in a manner such that one router can not adequately cover the square footage.  I have a 4000 sq. ft., 4-level house that a single router can not cover.  I bought an Eero Pro system that has 3 modules that communicate with each other on a dedicated frequency of 5.8 GHz and provide 2.4 and 5 GHz coverage to my WiFi devices.  I've placed the modules with a little trial and error in the best locations within my house to cover all of it and provide full subscribed bandwidth regardless of where I am.

 

Mesh networks are not cheap.  The Eero Pro w/3 modules runs $500.    High-end routers will run $250+ and still might not cover an entire house due to the reasons mentioned above.  Take some time to review Eero's website or the Orbi website to get a better understanding on how mesh networks work.  

 

I prefer the Eero as it has their "TrueMesh" technology where the modules can independently hop from one Eero module to the next to get to your gateway module that is connected to your modem.  Most other "mesh" networks require their remote modules to talk to the gateway module directly in one hop, which can limit the range of their network.  Eero's technical support is top-notch and they automatically push updates on a monthly basis to fix bugs and to provide additional services like Amazon Alexa support and so on.  My Eero system has been flawless since I bought it and I don't have to mess with it at all.  They even have an app for your phone that allows you to monitor your network's health, which devices are connected and what frequency they are using, their d/l and u/l speed and so on.

 

The Eero mesh network is simple to set up and administer and is functionally transparent.  I'm very happy with it.

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by Otto Pylot


I am not an AT&T employee.

*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.
Message 9 of 12
ACE - Expert

Re: Microcell doesn't improve reception

I can echo what @Avedis53 said about his Eero and its capabilities. The same holds true for the Orbi. Our house is 3500 sq. feet, two levels on a half acre. The main unit is downstairs where the cable modem is and the satellite is upstairs in our bedroom at the opposite end of the house. We get solid, fast coverage throughout the house and everywhere on our property. Out layout and house construction is very conducive to a mesh network so that's why a base unit and satellite work for us. The dedicated back channel can either be a separate WiFi channel or wired. Presently I'm using the WiFi because I haven't setup my wiring for upstairs yet but it doesn't seem to be an issue. Each unity has four ethernet inputs if you want to wire a device to it. Apps are available for both my iPhone and iPad and I'm sure the same holds true if you are an Android user. I think what lacks on both systems (and maybe even the Velop mesh system) is sophisticated firewall capabilities like you'd find on a standalone high end router.

 

Just look at your needs and do your homework to see what will work best for you.

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

*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.
Message 10 of 12
ACE - Sage

Re: Microcell doesn't improve reception

I bought the Google mesh system.  However, I am meshing 150+ Mbps speed, which makes a big difference if you have a couple dozen devices on it.

 

(The following is included after all posts to save typing) I don’t work for AT&T. My replies are based on experience and reading content available on the website. Our answers are honest, but not always appreciated. If you posted personal information, please edit and remove.
*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.
Message 11 of 12
ACE - Expert

Re: Microcell doesn't improve reception

@lizdance40 - yep. I have at least 10 devices constantly connected to my Netgear Orbi, and the number increases if company comes over or the kids come home. However, at about 300Mbps down, there's lots of room to "mesh around" with no issues Smiley Wink

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

*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.
Message 12 of 12
Share this topic
Share this topic
Additional Support