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Thread: Microcell disussion...good, bad, ugly?

  1. #1
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    Microcell disussion...good, bad, ugly?

    The Microcell finally arrived here on Long Island yesterday. I picked one up and installed it. Here are some impressions after one day of use.

    The install went as advertised. The up-to-90-minutes for initialization took 20-25 minutes.

    I was initially very pleased seeing 5 bars everywhere in our 2,000 square foot single floor house. However, I have come to realize that there's a big difference when just looking at the pilot carrier (no call in progress) and when on an actual call.

    I've walked around the entire house while on a call. Signal strength varied from 5 bars to none, and a call actually dropped a couple of times. I've located the Microcell in the center of the house so the maximum distance from the cell to either end of the house is ~40 ft. Where I was experiencing the problem was way less than that distance with a couple of walls in between the cell and my phone.

    It seems like the Microcell's signal doesn't penetrate walls very well. I wonder if it's on 850 MHz or 1900? I've searched for the tech spec and couldn't find it. But what also puzzles me is if I'm standing in the same room as the Microcell, on a call, signal strength will fluctuate up and down from 1 or 2 bars to 5.

    I've duplicated the same results with a Moto Karma QA1, a Razr V3xx, and an iPhone 3GS.

    So despite my initial enthusiasm for the Microcell I'm toying with returning it within the 30 day return window. We have some macro-cell service here but it's not solid and never will be. NIMBY will never let any carrier put a tower up nearer to us. I was hoping the Microcell was the solution to having rock solid coverage in the house. It doesn't look like that happened.

    Anybody have any suggestions on how to possibly improve performance? And have your results been similar/better/worse?

  2. #2
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    Where on Long Island? Nassau or Suffolk county? Need to get one for my parent's house in Muttontown, big dead zone with NIMBY people there. Thanks!

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    I'm in Suffolk. They have (or at least had yesterday) them in stock at the at&t store on Rt. 110 in Mellville. The address is 594 Walt Whitman Rd.

    When you get yours up-and-running, come back with some results.

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    Check the cable

    I've had my microcell for a couple of weeks now and have had a mixed experience. I've had dropped calls, one sided calls, and bad voice quality.

    I immediately called AT&T and the tech. guys looking into it. I also called Warner Cable to check the line to make sure everything was working correctly and they did find a problem.

    Tomorrow Warner Cable is sending out a guy to "adjust" my modem. Hopefully that will fix things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jefe
    It seems like the Microcell's signal doesn't penetrate walls very well. I wonder if it's on 850 MHz or 1900? I've searched for the tech spec and couldn't find it.
    The microcell supports both 850 and 1900, but it appears to prefer 1900 where AT&T has both. I would presume this is because the 1900 won't propagate as far.

    My experience with the microcell has been good. It has not dropped a single call, but I do notice it does occasionally hand out calls to the macrocell, this is usually not perceptible, but once or twice has resulted in a slight audio glitch during the switch. My good experience might be because I am using U-Verse for my internet connection. I have done some route checking and the microcell's traffic never leaves AT&T's network before reaching the destination.

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    I'm definitely interested in hearing what "adjust your modem" turns out to mean, although I'm skeptical that could be the problem you or I are seeing.

    I am on FiOS here so there's no modem in the equation, just an ONT, a router, and a switch, and I have tons of bandwidth to spare. I suspose there could be some kind of port forwarding issue that hasn't come to light yet but that wouldn't explain my seeing widely varying signal strength within 10 or 20 feet of the Microcell.

    Please update after the cable tech's visit and also if you ever hear back from at&t.

    I have to admit that I hadn't even considered calling at&t tech support because those calls are so often an excercise in futlity, but maybe it's worth a shot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jkf
    The microcell supports both 850 and 1900, but it appears to prefer 1900 where AT&T has both. I would presume this is because the 1900 won't propagate as far.

    My experience with the microcell has been good. It has not dropped a single call, but I do notice it does occasionally hand out calls to the macro-cell, this is usually not perceptible, but once or twice has resulted in a slight audio glitch during the switch. My good experience might be because I am using U-Verse for my internet connection. I have done some route checking and the micro cell's traffic never leaves AT&T's network before reaching the destination.
    I would hope that the Microcell would favor 850 for better penetration through walls and such. But maybe the fluctuation I'm seeing in signal strength when on a call and walking around the house on changing back and forth from 850 to 1900.

    If you switch to macro during a call in your house it doesn't switch back to micro until after the call is ended, right? My understanding is that the switch should be fairly seamless from micro to macro during a call, but not the other way around.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jefe
    If you switch to macro during a call in your house it doesn't switch back to micro until after the call is ended, right? My understanding is that the switch should be fairly seamless from micro to macro during a call, but not the other way around.
    That is correct, if you hand out to the macro, it won't switch back to the micro. Just as if you start a call on the macro, it won't switch to the micro when you're in range.

    The hand outs generally are seamless, but it is a hard handoff, versus a soft handoff like you would get from macro tower to tower. Because of that, there are conditions that can cause calls to drop or audio to glitch during the switch.

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    Mine has been flawless since day one....
    AT&T LTE Network Hartford, CT Area

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    Quote Originally Posted by jefe
    It seems like the Microcell's signal doesn't penetrate walls very well. I wonder if it's on 850 MHz or 1900? I've searched for the tech spec and couldn't find it.
    It'll use whatever bands AT&T is licensed for in your market.

    PRL Interpretations
    XFF's AlphaTag software
    Cellular and PCS License Maps
    Quote Originally Posted by gpatrick900
    I am a little confused. My Verizon phone was able to roam on GSM because they used TDMA. Tell it was shutdown. The phone recognizes it as Analog. If PCS has TDMA, It could be technically be used on GSM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tabla View Post
    Y'know, I'm used to hysterical 14-year-old ******** on the internet, but this is exceptional. Never before in human history have so many nerds hyperventilated so publicly over so little.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRC72
    Mine has been flawless since day one....
    I would like to be able to say that too.

    How big an area are you covering?

    Quote Originally Posted by SFF
    It'll use whatever bands AT&T is licensed for in your market.
    We have both bands near here, and both 3G and Edge.

    That being the case, how does the logic work? 850 would definitely be better for penetrating walls, ceilings, floors, doors, etc. Might there be any way to force the Microcell to stay in 850?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jefe
    I would like to be able to say that too.

    How big an area are you covering?

    The micro-cell is in my basement and it covers the whole house which is about 1200 to 1300 Sq ft. Once I step outside it usually switches over to the macro-cell, but I don't mind as the signal is really good outside. Interestingly my Samsung will hover around 3 to 4 bars upstairs, to sometimes fulls bars, while my Nokia N75 always shows full micro-cell bars everywhere in the house, and does hold onto the signal better when going outside.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jefe
    We have both bands near here, and both 3G and Edge.

    That being the case, how does the logic work? 850 would definitely be better for penetrating walls, ceilings, floors, doors, etc. Might there be any way to force the Microcell to stay in 850?
    Ok, I should have been more clear. It'll use whatever band AT&T is using for 3G service in your area. If AT&T has 3G carriers deployed in both bands it'll probably try and use some kind of load leveling algorithm, or simply ask the network what to do. There's no way for the end user to override the band. This is licensed spectrum we're talking about here, it's not like Wi-Fi where you can tinker with the parameters.

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    For those of you that do have them, what is the procedure for getting one if your zip code for whatever reason does not show up as "available" on the microcell availability website? Considering that a town ~20 miles away from me is popping up available, and mine is not. Will it just completely not activate? Since it's available so close but yet my zip code isn't validating it makes me wonder if it would still work.

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    http://www.wireless.att.com/support_...al_011310.pdf?

    2.4 Can I move my 3G MicroCell to a different street or apartment address?
    If you move your 3G MicroCell, you MUST update the 3G MicroCell’s address. To update your address information, visit
    att.com/3GMicroCell and go to ‘Manage your 3G MicroCell’. Remember, the street and/or apartment address you provide
    in your online activation will be sent to local emergency responders, so this information must be kept current.
    Note: The new location must be in an area where AT&T is licensed to provide service. If you aren’t sure, contact
    AT&T Customer Support at 1.888.334.3787 and enter PIN 88346 for assistance.
    Now I'm not sure if "licensed to provide service" and "Microcell availability" are interchangeable in this context -- most carriers expect consumers to be dumber than rocks so they never go into detail. However, if it were me I'd take the risk and traverse that 20 miles and buy one. If it doesn't work, well then just return it. (You have 30 days right?)

    Note: That PDF also lists all ports (on page 5) the microcell uses in order to function properly -- in case you're having trouble. I got it from anandtech.

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