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April 07, 2010

Fed Up With Dropped Calls, Excited To Hear About AT&T's At-Home Cell Tower

My morning routine after I drop my kids off at school is to come home to my "home office" (a.k.a tiny desk at a corner of my bedroom next to piles of unfolded laundry) and make my morning business calls.

No matter what type of fancy smartphones or headsets I have tested, nothing can overcome something that is worse then the "blue screen of death". And that is the plague of the dropped calls caused by (shriek) dead cell zones. So far this morning EVERY call I made included a call back to the person I was talking to because of a dropped call. My cell service is AT&T and while it worked great while in Paris, for some reason cell coverage in my sunny California house is not so sunny - in fact it is "the big grey cloud" of my day. While AT&T prepares for a battle to improve their poor coverage, I am:

  • Sweating through conference calls wondering if I will drop off.
  • Losing time because conversations are broken off while in the middle of discussing important subjects.
  • Wondering: While being interviewed by reporters as "a technical savvy mom resource", I wonder if there are thinking that I must have a phone from 1999 because the calls keep dropping.

In reality, different cell companies have different areas where their coverage is strong and their coverage is weak. A friend of mine that has a cell coverage from a different company gets *no* coverage at all in his house - but full coverage if he walks out his front door. So the real question is "What really causes bad cell coverage quality?" Is it the service provide or is it relative to how close you are to a cell tower? This is something I have been thinking about for some time.

This morning I saw an article in the New York Times that made me think there is hope for my home cell coverage. The article was titled "Bringing You a Signal You’re Already Paying For" about the news that AT&T is to offer at-Home Mini-Tower. I wonder if this is what I need to improve my cell coverage?

Here is more information about the AT&T Mini-Tower (called the AT&T 3G MicroCell™):

"The size of a couple of decks of cards, these mini-towers act and look like Wi-Fi hot spots at cafes, and redirect cellphone calls from congested cell towers to home Web connections."

 AT&T-mini-cell-tower

Picture credit: New York Times via Associated Press

Link to more information about the AT&T 3G MicroCell™

Update: After bringing this topic up on Twitter, one of my followers (John L Painter) discussed the Wi-Ex zBoost as a good product to improve home cell coverage quality in Maine.

Comments

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My husband has been talking up the mini tower for about a week. We are one of the people who have zero coverage in most of our house, spotty coverage by the front door and slightly better outside. We can't give up our landline any time soon. However, my hold up with the tower is the rumors that there may be an iPhone for Verizon out in September. Do I want to buy the tower, only to possibly switch away from AT&T in a few months? Probably not.

We have the same issue in our house. The day that I had an extremely long phone call with you, I was sitting on my front porch. One of the Genius' at Mac told me about this. My husband is wondering if it will work.

Good point Kimberly. But I just wonder if it is just a problem with AT&T - or with all service providers. My friend lives in a house that is a dead zone for Sprint Coverage. I have friends that have said the same about other carriers. Maybe it is just having one gadget to boost all cell carriers that can help us (those with home dead or poor quality zones). Thanks for adding your thoughts Kimberly!

Julie - Maybe our porches are just the best place to have phone calls. My porch also gets better coverage!

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