AT&T Wrongly Thrown Under the Bus for MicroCell Data Use

The news broke on Thursday that any data that flows through AT&T's MicroCells, which are their versions of femtocells and transmit voice / data over your broadband, counts against AT&T's new data caps. Everyone was all over this, screaming about another AT&T misdeed. The non-hysterical view of the issue, however, is: so?

First off, we are no fans of the fact that AT&T charges $150 so you can buy a device to give you better AT&T coverage in your home, particularly when that device is using up our broadband cap. We're also not fans of the new data caps, but that's another story. Here, however, AT&T is being blamed unfairly.

To be absolutely fair, any 3G data is routed through your broadband, but eventually reaches AT&T's wired network, so it does use their "pipes." Even without that info, let's look at it rationally:
  1. Simply put, if you have a femtocell, you have broadband.
  2. If you have broadband you likely have a home network with a router
  3. If you have a home newtwork, you likely have wi-fi
  4. If you have wi-fi you can connect your smartphone to it
If a smartphone has a wi-fi connection it will use that for data. Therefore, there is no issue, unless you don't have 2, 3, or 4 above.

It's possible, actually, to not have a home network, and just have the cable / DSL modem directly attached to a computer, but that's not the expected installation setup for a MicroCell. It's supported, because it has to be, but AT&T's manual assumes a home network with a router as the standard install.

If you have 2, you'd better have 3. Why would you have a home network without wi-fi? And if you have 3, you'd darn well better have 4 (although we will make exceptions for those with older smartphones that don't have wi-fi).

At any rate, this time AT&T isn't really a villain. Don't get us wrong, they have plenty of other things they have done wrong, and continue to do wrong (crippling Android phones with whacko decisions, data caps, and more). This isn't one of them.