AT&T fears the loss of its loyal customer base and is offering free microcell units to keep them. The microcell is actually a femtocell unit that AT&T normally sells for $ 199. They are offering it to some customers, but not all customers oddly enough, to keep them from defecting to Verizon now that Verizon has the iPhone. Out of desperation, AT&T is trying to woo potential defectors back into the fold.
What is a femtocell? According to Glen Fleishman, ARS Technica Gears & Gadgets, the femtocell technology is basically a small cellular base station designed to provide superior, short-range, indoor cellular coverage in a home or office. Fleishman says that the idea behind femtocells is simple: the hardware tries to capture the ease of setup of a Wi-Fi network while allowing seamless connectivity for existing cell phones. In non-geek speak, the femtocell makes the cellular signal stronger in your home or office. How many of you have to lean out of a window or walk outside to get a clear signal at home or at the office? But you dont have to be an AT&T customer to get a femtocell unit. Sprint and Verizon also offer their version.
Offering the free microcell units is backfiring on AT&T. The term free is probably a misnomer in this case. While AT&T is offering to give customers the microcell for free, the customer must sign a contract to stay with AT&T for at least 12 more months, or there is a stiff penalty to pay. In addition, there is a monthly service charge to have the service. AT&T customers are outraged in San Francisco and New York City, where service coverage is notoriously bad. The customers are protesting that AT&T is trying to sell them a service to make a service they already pay for workable.
Verizon sold out its new iPhone in 2 hours during its pre-sale. The first day of actual sales exceeded sales for any other device they have ever sold. Reports on performance of their new iPhone 3G show the Verizon iPhone loads web pages as fast as the AT&T iPhone 4G. With Verizon having the most reliable network in the US, why would anyone want to stay with AT&T? Apparently this thought has occurred to AT&T as well. Hence, the offer for the free femtocell unit.
Are you an AT&T customer? Have you received this generous offer? Whats your take on it?
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