The AT&T Microcell Has Been Discontinued, Here Are 5 Replacements

As of December 31st, 2017, the AT&T MicroCell has been discontinued. While existing units will continue to work, it’s expected they’ll all be shut down by the end of 2018.

If you own a MicroCell and rely on it for placing calls at your home or at your office, now is the time to start thinking about replacing it.

Now that the Microcell is no longer an option, how can you boost your AT&T cell phone signal? You have two options, and in they’re actually better than AT&T’s MicroCell option:

Option 1: Use a Cell Phone Signal Booster

how a cell phone booster works

Cell phone signal boosters improve signal by amplifying the existing signal from outside.

We generally recommend using a booster only if you have at least 1 bar of consistent and usable signal (preferably LTE signal) outside the building.

Since boosters amplify the signal and bring it inside, generally your signal will be as good indoors as it is outdoors after you install a booster.

Top Recommended Booster Kits:

Please note: before picking a kit, we recommend checking the RSRP and SINR for your outdoor signal. This will help you figure out which kit is the best choice.

The Cel-Fi GO X

If you have weak outdoor signal (less than -80 dBm RSRP) then the Cel-Fi Go X for AT&T is your best choice. The GO X is a carrier-specific device, meaning that it only improves signal for one carrier at a time (just like the MicroCell).

HiBoost Home 15K

The HiBoost Home 15K is an excellent broadband booster, and performs better than any of the other signal booster kits at this price point.

weBoost Connect 4G-X

weBoost is the largest manufacturer of signal boosters in the US, and for good reason: their products perform excellently. The weBoost Connect 4G-X is a great solution for homes and small offices.

SureCall Fusion4Home

If you have a small home, strong outdoor signal, and a low budget, the SureCall Fusion4Home is a great pick. We recommend purchasing the kit with a yagi outdoor and a panel indoor antenna, as it performs considerably better than the other kit options.

For more specific recommendations on which kits to purchase, we recommend checking out our 11 Best Cell Phone Signal Boosters or our Cell Phone Signal Booster Guide.

Signal Boosters vs The AT&T MicroCell

Using a signal booster instead of the AT&T MicroCell has multiple benefits:

  • Signal boosters support AT&T HD Voice service
    That means you’ll experience much better call quality than you would by using the AT&T MicroCell.
  • Signal boosters support LTE
    The AT&T MicroCell only supported 3G service. Support for LTE means you can achieve significantly faster data rates with a signal booster than you would with the MicroCell.
  • Signal boosters will work for everyone in the building
    The MicroCell, on the other hand, only worked for users who were registered to use your MicroCell via AT&T’s online portal.
  • Signal boosters are generally more reliable
    Boosters don’t rely on your broadband Internet connection. The MicroCell, on the other hand, would stop working if you were having any kind of internet connectivity issues.

Picking the Right Booster

The first step towards finding the right booster is taking signal measurements outside the building.

Specifically, you need two numbers:

  • RSRP, a measure of signal strength
  • SINR, a measure of signal quality

You can read more about how to get these numbers using your phone in our signal booster guide.

These two numbers help inform exactly which kind of booster you should purchase:

  • If your RSRP signal strength is stronger than -80 dBm (e.g. -60 or 70 dBm), then you can use a wideband signal booster like those from weBoost, Wilson, SureCall, and HiBoost.
  • If your RSRP signal strength is weaker than -80 dBm (e.g. -90 or -100 dBm) but higher than -115 dBm and your SINR is greater than 3 (e.g. 5 or 10) we recommend using a carrier-specific booster like the Cel-Fi GO X.
    • If your SINR is less than 3 or your signal is less than -115 dBm, please contact us using the live chat at the bottom right of this page. We recommend using a broadband booster instead, but you should know that the coverage area will be very limited

Option 2: Use Wi-Fi Calling

If you have great signal, and your device and carrier supports it, you can use Wi-Fi calling.

Wi-Fi calling allows your phone to make and receive calls using your Wi-Fi network instead of its cellular network.

Wi-Fi calling works great if:

  • You have a fast, reliablie broadband Internet connection.
  • You don’t mind if you have call issues when your Internet connection is under heavy load.
  • You don’t mind if calls drop when you enter or leave the building.
  • You don’t mind phone calls not working when your Wi-Fi connection has problems.
  • You’re using a supported device. Most iPhones now support Wi-Fi calling. Android devices typically only support Wi-Fi calling only if you’re on a carrier-approved device.
  • You don’t mind guests losing connectivity (until you share your Wi-Fi password with them).

You can read about how to enable wi-fi calling on Android devices here, and on iPhones here.

How the MicroCell Worked

AT&T’s MicroCell was a type of “femtocell.” Femtocells create a local cellular network, similar to how a Wi-Fi routers create a Wi-Fi network. But instead of communicating back to AT&T’s network wirelessly, it used your existing Internet connection.

Femtocells are still popular devices, and Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint all still sell femtocells for their networks. For example, we sell the popular Verizon LTE Network Extender for Enterprise.

Why the MicroCell was Discontinued

To be honest, we’re not really sure. The MicroCell was hugely popular with users. And well over a million devices were sold. But it also hadn’t been updated in some time. And it relied on older 3G technology, rather than newer LTE technology.

Cisco was the main manufacturer of AT&T’s MicroCell, and they announced that they were discontinuing their line of femtocells in mid-2017. It’s not clear which came first: AT&T’s decision to discontinue or Cisco’s.

Either way, AT&T is pushing users towards using either signal boosters or Wi-Fi calling as an alternative to the MicroCell.

Further reading

Want to know more about the ins and outs of boosting signal?

Check out our in-depth Guide to Cell Phone Signal Boosters for information on a range of topics, including:

More about cellular technology:

More about boosters and antennas: