HotSpot @Home, Sprint has AIRAVE, and Verizon has its Wireless Network Extender, leaving just AT&T among the States' big four carriers without a launched WiFi or femtocell solution for extending signals into the home -- but it looks like that's finally getting close to changing. We know that they've been in the process of trialing some units recently, and tipsters have observed that there's now a pretty slick site launched on AT&T's domain for its 3G MicroCell, an indication that they might be looking to go retail eventually. There's quite a bit of detail here; from the picture, we can make out that the unit comes from Cisco (versus Samsung for Sprint and Verizon), and like its competitors, the MicroCell will require a broadband connection to operate. It'll cover up to 5,000 square feet, allow up to four simultaneous voice or data connections (locked down so that your neighbors can't pilfer the signal), and most interestingly, will only work with 3G phones. We've heard that femtocells are more difficult to manage in a 2G GSM environment than in CDMA and WCDMA -- hence the 3G requirement -- but the cells offered by Sprint and Samsung only offer 2G coverage, so AT&T's arguably got an advantage here. We still don't know exactly when this is coming or for how much dough, but the site makes mention of a "3G MicroCell service plan," so we'd count on a fee for the pleasure of extending AT&T's network on their behalf. Follow the break for AT&T's full rundown of the device.
[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]
What is an AT&T 3G MicroCell™?
AT&T 3G MicroCell acts like a mini cellular tower in your home or small business environment. It connects to AT&T's network via your existing broadband internet service (such as DSL or cable) and is designed to support up to 10 3G capable wireless phones in a home or small business setting. With AT&T 3G MicroCell, you receive improved cellular signal performance for both voice calls and cellular data applications, like picture messaging and surfing the web for up to 4 simultaneous users.
* Enhanced coverage indoors - supports both voice and data up to 5000 square feet.
* Available unlimited minute plans - Individual or Family Plan.
* 3G handset compatible - works with any AT&T 3G Phone.
* Up to 4 simultaneous voice or data users supported.
* Device is secure - cannot be accessed by unauthorized users, easy and secure online management of device settings
* Seamless call hand-over - start calls on your 3G MicroCell and continue uninterrupted even if you leave the building.
* 3G wireless phone/device
* Broadband service over DSL or cable
* Computer with internet access for online registration
* Installing your device near a window is strongly recommended to ensure access to Global Positioning System (GPS). A GPS link is needed to verify the device location during the initial startup.
* The 3G MicroCell device is portable. The device may be moved, provided the new location is within the AT&T authorized service area and properly registered online.