Of late, the zero-bar situation has gotten rather worse, so I looked into the AT&T 3G MicroCell, a device that connects to our Internet connection and will carry calls from home over the Internet rather than the rather variable cell tower, thus giving us four bars at home all the time. The AT&T MicroCell page says “Congratulations,” and that my zip code (physical address is 81403) qualifies for using one. Great! So we got one up at the Grand Junction AT&T store. But then the trouble began. Step 1 is to register the device. To do that, one goes to the web site and enters the serial number. It confirms the address and then… But we never found out what then, because the pre-populated address (which was correct) didn’t qualify for the service! So, I called for help and after a loooooong time with several different AT&T reps, was told that our address was indeed outside their coverage area. They said their system wouldn’t be able to pick up the GPS from the MicroCell.
Huh? I’m an electrical engineer (not to mention ham radio operator) and I know how GPSs work. (I also know how cell phones work.) For one, GPS units are receivers only, so AT&T can’t pick up “our” GPS. Second, the microcell works through the Internet, not over the air, so what’s the issue? Our cell phones pick up the local tower (most of the time) and the service is genuine AT&T. Every technical question I asked of the “network expert” elicited a response I knew wasn’t sound engineering.
So here’s my beef:
- We live in an area covered by AT&T and have for seven years
- Most of the time our service works fine
- Their own web page says our zip code qualifies for the MicroCell
- But we don’t qualify for the MicroCell because of GPS issues
I don’t get it. If they could give me a reason that made sense I’d be okay. That’s the problem with being an engineer: I actually understand the technology involved and can spot a faulty answer a mile away. What really makes my blood simmer is that they won’t give me a straight answer except “no” for no good reason. I told them this makes me want to look at alternative carriers. I’ll have to check things out.