Unbox and SetUp of Your AT&T Microcell

by Chris on May 4, 2010 · 7 comments

by Chris on May 4, 2010 · 7 comments

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I guess I am a little excited about getting the AT&T Microcell. I figured since a lot of folks are still waiting for the AT&T Microcell to become available, in their area, why not show the setup process. I was happy with how simple the setup process is. The instructions state that activation of the AT&T Microcell can take up to 90 minutes but in true tech junky fashion, it only took me 30 minutes. And the only thing extra you should get is a decent surge protector. So let me walk you through the steps.

Let me start by saying that AT&T’s instructions are quite clear and easy to follow. Therefore don’t hesitate to use them. But this is more about the excitement then just the instructions.

Quick Refresher

The AT&T Microcell broadcasts a 3G wireless signal in a small area up to 5,000 square feet. The Microcell is then connected to your broadband connection (FIOS, UVerse, Cable, or DSL). No changes are needed to the phone as it believes it is connected to a traditional mobile tower but calls are actually being sent over your internet connection.

What’s in the Box?

When you open the box its contents are pretty straight forward. You have the AT&T Microcell, Getting started Guide, User Manual, Cat 5e Ethernet cable, and the AC adapter. Kudos to AT&T to stepping up to a faster cable (Cat 5e). Too bad the Microcell appears to only run at 100 mbps Most houses won’t need it but my home network is gigabit and requires at least a Cat 5e cable.


Completely out of the box.



Once I got the AT&T Microcell out of the packaging it was time to register the device. When I purchased it from the AT&T store they added the device onto my account. In fact they actual entered my home address information into the system. So really it was a matter of going registering the AT&T Microcell.

2 Logging in

Next I was presented with and explanation of the registration process.

3 Registration Process After that I had to enter in the serial number from the bottom of the AT&T Microcell.

4 Enter Serial Number For houses that are larger you may want to have more than one AT&T Microcell. This is made easy by allowing you to give each device a Nickname. This is where you also have to verify your address information. This is for emergency calling. I will explain this a little more in the Placement section.

5 NickName and 911 The next part is one of the great features of the Microcell. This is an Approved User List. You can define up to ten 3G AT&T phones that can access your Microcell. This is good because you really don’t want random people or neighbors using your AT&T Microcell or internet for free. You can easily add and remove people from your management screen.

6 Approved User list Finally you get a screen that tells you what is next in the setup process.

7 What is Next

In all this first step took me 5 minutes to do.

Microcell Placement

I didn’t realize this but the Microcell has a GPS device in it. At first thought, I was 7 Tipswondering why AT&T wants to know exactly where the Microcell is located. I was thinking that is a bit much. After reading a little more, I learned that the GPS is used for emergency 911 calls. Since you are making calls over the internet it is hard for emergency personnel to know where you are calling from. This is very similar to the same issue VOIP companies like Vonage have. And just like Vonage, AT&T requires you to enter in your home address information.  All of this explains the Installation Tips from AT&T

Fortunately I have a perfect spot in my office. There is a nice little corner spot in the window sill, and that is where it went.


Wiring the Microcell

You have a few options to wire your Microcell. Option A is to plug your AT&T Microcell into your internet connection just as you would any computer putting the Microcell behind your network. This configuration required the least number of changes to your existing network configuration. Option B & C are similar as they connect your computers to the AT&T Microcell putting the Microcell in front of your network. The value of option B & C is the Microcell can prioritize voice traffic to ensure the best call quality. I just plugged it in behind my network (Option A).

The Lights

On the front of the Microcell there are a bunch of lights. From the top down there are

  • Power
  • Internet
  • GPS
  • PC
  • 3G

For my setup I was concerned with all except the PC light. As soon as I plugged in the device the power and the Internet light came on. The manual said within ten minutes the GPS light would come on, and it sure did. At this point the AT&T Microcell begins to figure out where it ,is and download updates. You can see it doing its thing with the GPS and 3G lights flashing. A solid 3G light means everything is done.

lights both After about 20 minutes I could see the Microcell reboot. According to the manual this is done to verify there are no more updates.


When the Microcell finished booting the 3G light and the GPS lights were flashing. Finally after about ten minutes there was a solid 3G light indicating we were ready to make Phone calls.



Instantly I got a text message and an email confirming the AT&T Microcell had connected to AT&T.


My Nexus One switched to the Microcell seamlessly. And my first phone call was clear as a bell.


My wife’s iPhone switched as soon as she got home too.


All in all the setup was really easy and seamless. It took all of thirty minutes to get everything up and running.  The only other thing i needed was a surge protector and that is to be on the safe side. Next up, I will be testing out the AT&T Microcell to see if it works well on my network. Let me be honest, as you can see from the image above my battery is dead because I have been using my phone more than ever. The AT&T Microcell will enable me to ditch my traditional phone service.

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  • Mike M

    hey I just got a AT&T microcell and tried to connect my girlfriend’s nexus one but it doesn’t even see it. i even did the *#*#4636#*#* function to force it into 3G-only mode and still wouldn’t connect. did you do anything special to get yours working? I called AT&T and they said the nexus one isn’t officially a 3G device since it only connects to EDGE. any ideas?

    • http://www.simplemobilereview.com Chris

      Sorry it took me so long to reply.

      I did not have to do anything it just worked the first time. When did she get the Nexus One. I would be interested to check and see if we are running the same build.

  • Tammy

    This is a terrific post with lots of helpful details. I’m thinking about getting a MicroCell and wanted to get a better idea of how much effort setup would be — your post answered it perfectly for me.

    Am I correct in understanding that the unit must remain plugged in to the wifi router after setup? That’ll be a challenge in our house, where the router is nowhere near a window.


    • Sam

      Yes, it has to remain connected to your router. It’s routing your cell calls over the internet after all. Unplug it from the internet and it’s useless. But you don’t really need to leave it by a window. I’ve had mine in my basement for a few months now, it’s been working fine.

      • http://www.simplemobilereview.com Rod

        I know on Verizon there is a GPS antenna that needs to verify location. I believe it is to avoid taking the Micro-cell to another country and getting calls using you data plan.

    • http://www.simplemobilereview.com Chris

      Glad that it could help you. This thing is the best. Remember you can add a Microcell plan for 20 dollars a month and all calls over it are free. You could pretty much get rid of your house phone!

  • mel

    how about re setting if it is unplugged