Explore & discover

Helpful Links

Microcell not working

Microcell not working

Hi Everyone,

 

I've used the white/orange ATT Microcell for almost a decade. Outside of the occasional restart, the device has performed well; without it, we have 1 bar of signal strength in our Wayne NJ home. A couple of weeks ago, we no longer had 4-5 bars of strength and the term "Microcell" was no longer visible on our iPhones. After recycling the unit, resetting it, cycling my router, etc., it still didn't work. However, it had all 4 lights solid green. Opened a ticket with ATT and they could find nothing wrong. So, thinking that my 10-year old MCell had given up the ghost, I bought a new one on Amazon - the black Cisco unit ($240). I transferred my family configuration to the new MCell on the website, got  4 green lights, email confirmation that my MCell was "activated and working", but no MCell service.

 

I use a pair of Linksys WRT-1900AC routers. Although I hadn't deliberately opened the ports outlined in the MCell manual before (the original unit worked anyway), I did so. Still no joy. Contacted ATT again. They told me to give them a couple of days, after which they let me know that "everything was working again". Indeed, I had MCell reception on my iPhone 7+, but neither my wife nor my daughter had MCell service. This situation happened in the evening; by the next morning, MCell was once again absent from my iPhone.

 

So, I contacted ATT again last night, updating my escalated support ticket. They told me that they could find nothing wrong, but will investigate "another aspect of the Microcell" and let me know.

 

I'm sorta at my wits end here.... ATT consistently recommends using WiFi calling, but that won't work in many areas where there is insufficient WiFi coverage. And that suggestion is nothing more than a band-aid, seemingly to get me to go away. My sister lives 8 miles from my home, has ATT and the same Cisco MCell unit and things are working fine for her.

 

Does anyone have any ideas/suggestions? I've constantly had to follow-up with ATT - there is no communication coming from their end unless I initiate the conversation. 

 

I don't know where to go next with this

Tags (2)
16,464 Views
Message 1 of 73
ACE - Expert

Re: Microcell not working

@AthleticGal - as @lizdance40 mentioned, the MicroCell is a femtocell, it is not a cellular booster. Entirely different technology. The MicroCell is dependent upon on how robust your internet service is. Call quality issues are usually an issue with your ISP and how clean of a line you have. If you have an older, white MicroCell then it could be something as simple as the ac adapter beginning to fail and not supplying enough consistent, adequate power to the radios. Another issue could actually be with your phone, especially if you've recently updated your phone. Some phones just play nicer with the MicroCell than others.

 

Sales of the MicroCell by AT&T were discontinued at the end of 2017 because the MicroCell has reached its EOL. Service will continue until AT&T transitions away from their 3G network, at which time the MicroCell service itself will be discontinued as well. What AT&T and us recommend now is WiFi-C (WiFi Calling) if you phone is capable. It is much more reliable with better call quality than the MicroCell. As communication technology advances, older technology such as the MicroCell will be retired.

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*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 61 of 73
Tutor

Re: Microcell not working

Signal strength bar doesn't ever turn solid only flashes 

Message 62 of 73
ACE - Expert

Re: Microcell not working

@Marshat92 - we need more information.

 

Which model of MicroCell do you have, white or black?

Did you experience a power outage?

By signal strength I assume you mean the 3G light, and what color is it flashing?

Were you ever able to activate/register the MicroCell or did you just purchase this off of eBay or someplace else?

What kind of internet service do you have?

What do the other lights indicate?

 

Are you living in a rural location or an apartment/condo complex?

 

More questions but let's start with those.

 

Keep in mind that the MicroCell reached its EOL at the end of 2017 so the service will only be active until AT&T begins to transition away from their 3G network. What AT&T and us recommend now is WiFi-C (WiFi Calling) if your phone is capable.

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*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 63 of 73
Tutor

Re: Microcell not working

My phone is the Samsung s7 Android, my carrier is at&t. I called at&t yesterday and he run test on my phone, checking for problems with the tower that is in my area and said everything was working as it should. My phone company replaced my equipment but the microcell 3g strength indicator bars, are still flashing green and i have no service. Without this microcell tower I have no cell phone service at my home at all. If i try to make a call it says that my mobile network is unavailable.

Message 64 of 73
ACE - Expert

Re: Microcell not working

@Marshat92 - what do you mean that the phone company replaced your equipment? Which equipment?

 

Please answer the questions in my above post.

 

A flashing green 3G light indicates a failed update, a hardware failure, or something is blocking access to the AT&T Mobility Servers.

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*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 65 of 73
Tutor

Re: Microcell not working

Three years ago I had the same problem under similar circumstances--no cell
service without the Microcell. I worked with AT&T for nearly a year going
through multiple Microcells and got all kinds of run arounds and stupid
analysis (e.g. the geodata for your house is wrong). In the end I had to
update my iPhones and use voice over WiFi and tossed the Microcell. I came
to the conclusion that AT&T doesn't want to support this device and the
people providing service have no clue. They are working from a script--how
many times have they reset your Microcell and said that should fix it?
Message 66 of 73
ACE - Expert

Re: Microcell not working

@lrtman - your frustration is why I wrote the MicroCell Technical Guide years ago and kept it updated as best as I could. The two other Guides also came out of that frustration. I do agree that for the most part, AT&T's MicroCell Support was basically clueless as to how the MicroCell worked and what was required to fix it. In fact, once my Tech Guide was "published" AT&T Support was told that they were not to refer to it or refer customers to it. However, some CS Agents did use it successfully.

 

If your issue was due to the fact that AT&T couldn't locate the physical address of the MicroCell based on the sent GPS coordinates that wasn't entirely AT&T's fault because the Locational Database is updated and acquired from public sources, and if those sources aren't kept up-to-date by their providers, there isn't much that AT&T can do. This is not only true for rural addresses but apartment/condo complexes as well as newly constructed communities.

 

When WiFi-C (WiFi Calling) was first introduced we begin to try and sway folks to use that instead of the MicroCell if their phones were capable. However, that required new phones and there were only a few at that time that were WiFi-C capable (iPhone 6 and above for example). More and more phones were added and now, ever since the MicroCell's EOL was announced at the end of 2017, we've been strongly recommending that folks switch to WiFi-C because the service itself will be discontinued once AT&T begins their transition away from their 3G networks.

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*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 67 of 73
Contributor

Re: Microcell not working

I have read the string of discussion and frustration Earl has above and I have had the exact SAME situation!  Used the white/orange Cisco-AT&T Microcell for almost a decade - never any issues and all of a sudden it drops out and doesn't work.  No support from AT&T Network Mobility - and most don't even know what a Microcell is unless you move up the ticket/support ladder (which I have done).  I am being told by others it may be the 5G deployment  causing issues with compatibility??  I have used an iphone6, iphoneX -  Android and Blackberry and they all worked and didn't work at the same time -- ruling out software setting on phone issue!

 

Today it got even stranger - all bars on MCell on phone are back on but now the phone and texting NO LONGER will send/work at all when connected to MCell!!     It now says, "waiting for connection" below a text when sending.

 

Has anyone experienced this as well?   At a loss and not sure what the solution is.

 

Thanks

AK

Message 68 of 73
ACE - Expert

Re: Microcell not working

@akcalifornia - if you have the original MicroCell, which it sounds like you do, then I'd check the ac adapter with a voltmeter to make sure it is reading 16VDC +/- 0.5 with no load. It could be as simple as the adapter beginning to fail and not providing enough power to the radios/components. If it is the adapter, replace it with one of the same rating and see if that works. Or, the MicroCell itself could be failing after basically years of being on continuously. If that's the case, they can't be repaired and you're out of luck. You could try a hard reset following the instructions in my Tech Guide (link is in my sig line).

 

5G deployment has nothing to do with it. The MicroCell is 3G only, and AT&T's "5Ge" is more marketing at this point in time than substance.

 

What does the light pattern look like on the MicroCell? Have you had any power outages? Have you recently upgraded any of your hardware (router, modem, gateway)?

 

Who is your ISP and what kind of internet service do you have?

 

Sales of the MicroCell by AT&T were discontinued at the end of 2017 because the MicroCell has reached its EOL. The service will continue until AT&T begins to transition away from their 3G network. At that point in time, the MicroCell service will be discontinued as well. What AT&T, and us recommend now is WiFi-C (WiFi Calling) if your phone is capable. Other than that, you can look into a cellular booster (see my Cellular Booster Guide, link is in my sig line) or switch carriers.

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*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 69 of 73
Contributor

Re: Microcell not working

Thanks for the feedback - but my MircoCell unit is working fine (had it checked).  I have 5G deployed here already and have been told by AT&T that MicroCell (as you stated) will no longer be supported once off of 3G.  That seems to be the case here.

Below you will see the answer AT&T is providing once they move to 5G and have to downward support devices - they will utilize wi-fi only. However, they seem to recognize there is a security vulnerability and certain devices do NOT allow wi-fi calling nor do customers want to switch for security reasons.

If I get a further solutions from AT*T I will advise.  Thanks for your help. 

 

The cell tower is going to access the nearest wi-fi to connect and function to provide the required wavelength to improve the cellular service.

 

Unfortunately for me wi-fi calling is not an option as I am not interested in switching to a less secure mobile device.

Message 70 of 73
ACE - Expert

Re: Microcell not working

@akcalifornia - if you have AT&T as your cellular service then you do not have real 5G, only 5Ge, which is really nothing more than an extension of LTE. Full deployment of 5G is still quite a ways off for AT&T and it will require newer phones with the radios to handle that.

 

AT&T has not yet begun to phase out the MicroCell service.

 

The MicroCell has nothing at all to do with WiFi. And it doesn't use the local cell tower (macrocell) to send/receive calls. That goes thru your internet connection. The local cell tower is used for location verification, maintenance, and other functions as explained in my Tech Guide.

 

WiFi-C uses 2 of the same 4 ports that the MicroCell uses, only those ports are accessed via your WiFi connection instead of thru the MicroCell's 3G signal. WiFi-C does not use the local cell tower for sending/receiving calls, just like the MicroCelI, so I don't know what security issues AT&T is referring to. Most CSR's haven't a clue as to how the MicroCell works or even WiFI-C. I stopped using my MicroCell about 2 years ago and now use WiFi-C exclusively at home and have not had any issues at all.

 

AT&T only allows certain phones to utilize WiFi-C on their network, usually they are the more recent iPhone and Android-based devices of which they are currently selling.

 

So, if your MicroCell device is working fine as you say, then it's your phones that are not connecting because I'm assuming that all of the lights on the MicroCell are a solid green?

 

Did you recently update your phones and which model of phones do you have? Have you completely turned off your phone, waited a minute or so, and then turned it back on? If you updated your phone it could be that the phone needs to re-establish that the MicroCell is part of its cellular neighborhood.

 

If you don't answer all of the questions, there is not much we can do. There is no need for you to get back to us and "advise" until you give us more detail on your setup and equipment.

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*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 71 of 73

Re: Microcell not working

Akcalifornia

I can tell you what I did to fix my MCell problem----nothing. I fiddled with the unit and checked and re-checked that my configuration was set correctly on the website. Nothing I did worked, so I gave up and used WiFi calling. No one could resolve my MCell issue. I forgot about it.

This went on for a few months (I don't recall how long). Then, one day, I got an email from ATT, one of those emails you get when the MCell cannot confirm your location. Out of the clear blue sky. So I power-cycled the unit and, lo and behold, the MCell started functioning!

I want to reiterate that during those few months I didn't touch the MCell or the website config. I moved on with my life.

This resolution told me that the problem was on ATT's end. It wasn't a low voltage wall wart, or blocked ports, or the physical location of the MCell (which had not changed from when it HAD been working), or poltergeists or any other out-of-left-field solution. It was ATT. Many one-off solutions are just that, one-offs. They do not solve the majority of the issues because, IMO, ATT changes, adjusts, or fat-fingers something on their end and there isn't a communucations channel between the folks who did that and the customer support staff.

Since that time, I've had to power cycle the unit on 2 occasions when it appeared to have forgotten where it was located, but in each case the unit immediately began working again. It's been working fine for months, but I've probably just jinxed it.

I wish you luck with your issue.

Earl


Message 72 of 73
Highlighted
ACE - Expert

Re: Microcell not working

@MicroCellEarl - the MicroCell, and subsequent support, is far from perfect. That's why I started my Tech Guide, Quick Tips, and Cellular Booster Guide.

 

Location is key in a lot of circumstances, so is how you have it setup, your connected devices, ad naseum. And there are cases where it just doesn't work. Especially in rural areas, brand new developments, or apartment/condo units.

 

For most users, the service worked as designed. I used mine for years, switching ISP's, different routers, different phones, etc. and I had very few issues. The number of users who have had issues, as reported here, is a small representation of the total number of users who have had no issues. Of course that means nothing if you are one of the users who have issues.

 

However, the MicroCell is on borrowed time. It's time to move on to the new technologies, and that sucks because it may require that the customer purchase a new phone, or switch carriers.

___________________________________________________________

MicroCell Technical Guide by OttoPylot

Cellular Booster Guide by OttoPylot

"Quick Tips: My Microcell Doesn't Work"


I am not an AT&T employee.

Award for Community Excellence 2019 Achiever*
*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 73 of 73
Share this topic
Share this topic
Announcements

Do you need to fix, replace or track a device? We Can Help With That!

Additional Support