Please See End of Post for Suggestions on how to fix any connection errors on your AT&T Microcell…

Initial Post and Complaint:

I am a geek.  I am tech savvy.  I can set up wireless networks in the house, I can set up all sorts of gear- so plugging stuff in in series and getting it up and going isn’t a big problem for me.

We also are iPhone addicts, but we live in an area where the cell reception is erratic at best.  So when AT&T announced its Microcell to improve connectivity, I was psyched and called right away to get on the wait list for it.  In this area, we even have problems getting consistent 3G coverage- often it keeps dropping down to Edge, so the microcell, even at a cost, was a welcomed piece of news.   While I understand folks who complain about AT & T’s poor coverage, I also know I live in a semi-suburban area outside Wilmington DE, and all carriers have dodge-y connections here.  I also understand that the iPhone and iPads have turned normal cell phone users into data hogs, and the influx of folks now using mobile data at a drop of a hat would overwhelm any company’s network.  I’ve tried to be patient and understanding, knowing that putting up cell towers is not instantaneous.  It’s a time-intensive process, even after all the legal hassles and property rights have been resolved.  So they have all my deepest sympathies going into this.

I got even more excited when we received a coupon that let us go pick up a microcell for free at a local AT&T store.   It made me feel less whiny for all the times I logged on to my “service problems” app and repeatedly complained about our poor reception at home.  AT &T was going to fix it for us, and I was thrilled.

My husband picked up the unit and tried setting it up, but he’s rather impatient.  So when I got home from our recent trip, I sat down to give activation a try.

The first hurdle is that after you try to activate the microcell online, you have to wait 90 minutes to see whether or not the activation worked.  After an hour and a half, I am naturally off doing other things, so I tried to get it set up one afternoon, and waited until the next morning to check- but the activation had a problem.  I went through all the troubleshooting steps, set and rest everything, and still- activation problem.

When I called customer service, they informed me it was a server side error on their part.  So they allegedly fixed that and we tried again.  Nope- now they claimed it was a cable problem, so we got the router out of the way, and did everything directly through our cable modem to the microcell.  We know the cable modem and router work fine, but the microcell won’t “talk” to my computer and prevents any signal from the cable modem from reaching my computer once it’s inserted into the circuit.

Several more phone calls, waiting periods, guesses and the like later, and I have spent close to ten hours on this set up, much of it on the phone with AT&T representatives, only one of which hung up on me.  Theresa was particularly lovely and helpful, but we still are at an impasse and the thing is still not working properly.

Part of me is incredibly stubborn, and just wants to get the thing working, because I assume that once it is up, I will be so much happier with my service.  (Because our home 3G service is so poor, I opted against a 3G ipad and went for wifi only-for this reason alone).  The microcell possibility even had me second guessing that decision.

Yet, as of this writing, the Microcell is stubbornly resistant to any intervention tried by me or the AT&T customer service folks.

While I wait to get the situation resolved, I have to say I am not sure the Microcell, a brilliant solution to connectivity issues using broadband service most customers already have in their home, is ready for prime time.  Maybe a slower roll out would have helped.  But maybe you don’t know what’s going to happen until you start rolling the gear out to customers and field test it, for good or for ill.

I’m trying to find the silver lining here and find a way to understand why this process is so difficult and burdensome.  But I am at a loss.  And I would love it if we could just finally get this problem resolved, without spending another day arguing with this thing.  I am frustrated and the ever changing story about cables vs. Server side vs. modem settings debate is getting silly.

Please see next post for Updates and Solutions if you are having problems.