One of the disadvantages of living in a small city in North America is that mobile phone cell coverage can be rather poor. I have very poor reception in my home and as a result I still have both a fixed telephone line and a mobile phone. I never experienced anything like this while I was living in Japan. My previous carrier, T-Mobile, was no better than the current. AT&T Wireless, my current carrier, recently sent me an offer for a free 3G microcell for use in my home. I am not familiar with the microcell and cannot recall it from the 3GPP specifications, but I guess that it is something like a femtocell that is mentioned in 3GPP. Being keen on dropping the fixed line subscription and its high-priced, limited-usage long-distance call plan, I decided to accept the offer.
I picked up the microcell at a local retail shop and the salesman took care of the activation. At home I unboxed the microcell and was surprised that for its size it was quite light-weight, much lighter than my 802.11 wireless router. I wonder if the size is due to the antenna, or perhaps EM shielding? I followed the simple quick start guide and after the 90-minute setup period, sure enough I have a much stronger 3G signal in my home.
For those worrying about leechers and security, not just anyone can use the microcell. Up to 10 mobile numbers can be registered and managed with AT&T via their website.
I will not be canceling the fixed line just yet, but if this microcell works consistently for awhile then hopefully this solution will allow me to finally kick that money-hungry fixed line operator out of my home.