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AT&T 3G MicroCell available in some unlaunched markets, if you try hard enough

Chris Ziegler
05.03.10
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I've personally been following the launch of AT&T's 3G MicroCell very, very closely; I moved last year into a box surrounded on three sides by foot-thick cement (not much of an exaggeration) in which only Verizon's and T-Mobile's signals were able to penetrate without assistance -- and in my position, it's a non-negotiable requirement that I be able to use devices from all four US nationals. Since the announcement a few weeks back that the MicroCell would be going national, I've been practically bombarding my Chicago-area stores with calls, looking for a hint of detail on when they might be available here; they've already launched in New York City, so AT&T clearly isn't concerned about using them in densely-packed urban areas. This weekend I called four stores, and here's what I got:

Store 1: "We're supposed to have them in a couple of weeks."
Store 2: "We'll have them on May 6."
Store 3: "We have them in stock. Oh, hold on a minute. (long pause) I'm sorry, we're not allowed to sell them until the 10th."
Store 4: "Yes, we have them in stock."

In other words, there was no shortage of variety in sales reps' stories. I don't know how this happens -- it's conceivable that AT&T really is telling each store something entirely different, but it seems far more likely that these guys simply haven't been effectively educated on what's going on here. At any rate, I was able to march down to the fourth store I called and pick up the MicroCell with no hassles, therefore ending a many month-long personal nightmare of mine (and by the way, the device works just wonderfully).

The lesson learned? Even if the MicroCell hasn't launched in your market -- that is, you go to AT&T's MicroCell site and it tells you it's not yet available in your zip code -- be persistent and keep calling around. You've just got to find that one sales guy who's willing to flip it.

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