Looks like last Thursday/Friday night’s firmware update for the AT&T MicroCell fixed the issue I was having with calls going straight to voicemail. My support case got escalated around, and I got a call on Thursday to reboot the device on Friday morning. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one complaining about this, and it was lucky timing for me that they now got it fixed. So far all calls have come through, but of course I’m still a little paranoid.
If you’re looking to get an AT&T MicroCell, my unfolding story might interest you. I switched to AT&T with the lure of the iPhone 4 and partly because my T-Mobile reception has never been that great in my home office. Unfortunately, AT&T’s reception was even worse in the whole house. I thought I’d suck it up and drove to the nearest AT&T store and picked up a MicroCell.
First, the device needs to be (at least initially) by a window for it to get a GPS lock. You can plug in an external GPS antenna, which I bought and plugged in. Good to go, I don’t need to have this box in the living room anymore.
Second, iPhone’s location services are screwed up when it triangulates based on the M-Cell as the tower. This happens inside where the phone can’t get a GPS signal. AT&T’s response is that it’s a “feature” so they don’t give away your private information to third parties. Whatever. All my photos are now tagged as being taken in Santa Cruz – great.
Third, and most importantly, my phones don’t get incoming calls reliably; calls go straight to voicemail. I’m seeing a full five bars, and I’m making sure to obey Uncle Steve’s “hold differently” advice, but no luck. While I was on the phone with AT&T support today, about 80-90% of calls didn’t come through. Calling from MicroCell to MicroCell, our VOIP landline, an international phone roaming on T-Mobile, and calls from AT&T went straight to voicemail. Nice.
What makes this issue intolerable is that with bad reception you can at least see some indication that you won’t be getting calls. With the MicroCell you end up being paranoid because all you see is a full five bars (“more bars” per AT&T’s marketing. And yes, those making folks must enjoy their liquor) and you don’t know if you’re missing calls or not. Not great when you’re working from home and the boss tries to reach you.