updated 12:10 pm EDT, Mon September 21, 2009
ATT testing MicroCell service, pricing
AT&T today confirmed that it's starting a public trial of its 3G MicroCell home router. Company spokesman Seth Bloom acknowledged that the carrier is already offering service in Charlotte, North Carolina that gives users unlimited calling on the in-home device and lets devices without Wi-Fi use their already unlimited data plans on a more reliable cellular link. As with other femtocells, it works by creating a local, secure cellular hotspot that uses an existing home Internet connection to bridge to the phone network.
Pricing for the service is currently also in testing and would vary depending on the number of existing AT&T services in place. A customer who just uses cellular service will tentatively pay $20 per month in addition to their existing phone plan. Those who have either Internet access or landline phone service on top of the cellphone connection would pay just $10 per month, while those with all three formats would get the service for free.
Bloom adds that AT&T hasn't set a national launch date or pricing and that either could be in flux. Recent rumors have pointed to expanded trials, however. It's also known that there should be MicroCell support for iPhones as 3G congestion has created a strong incentive for the carrier to offload calls from its main network.