We heard way back in December of 2008 that AT&T was looking
to mimic Sprint (and now Verizon Wireless
) by introducing a femtocell of its very own, and while it took longer than just about everyone anticipated, that launch day has finally arrived. For those out of the loop, a femtocell is--in short--a mini cell tower. It's a box that looks somewhat like a WLAN router, and when connected to your broadband modem, it actually creates a cell site within your home. Naturally, if you have a cell site within your home, your reception is apt to be great.
The 3G MicroCell is the first GSM-friendly femtocell to be offered in America, with Sprint's version catering to CDMA users. Essentially, this gives AT&T users with flaky in-home service the chance to finally chat whilst roaming the house rather than having to stand perfectly still in a certain corner to snag one bar of signal. One thing to note here, this box actually supports 3G services (up to 3.2Mbit/sec) as well, whereas Sprint's AIRAVE doesn't support EV-DO Rev A. Unfortunately, it's not widely available yet. The carrier is running a public trial in the Charlotte region of North Carolina, so if you're out of that area, you're out of luck for now.
The unit, which covers around 5,000 square feet with AT&T service, will be sold for $150. If you decide to just use your existing calling plan with it, no further fees are necessary. If you'd like to add unlimited calling through the 3G MicroCell (which essentially converts your mobile into an at-home phones), that'll run you up to $20 per month depending on what other AT&T services (Internet, landline, etc.) you're currently paying for. We're hearing that the unit will be available nationwide within the coming weeks, but we suppose the exact launch date depends on how well the Charlotte experiment goes over.