Review of the AT&T MicroCell or Personal Cell Tower?

I finally had a chance to get around to doing a review on the AT&T MicroCell, but in the end, the MicroCell review was different than I had anticipated.  I was so excited when I found out that AT&T’s MicroCell had come to Auburn a few months ago, especially because I have been desperately wanting to cancel our landline for years. I have NEVER (yes never) had a cell signal at my house, and no matter how many times AT&T doesn’t believe me, I still can’t make a cell call from my house, so the AT&T MicroCell I thought was finally going to be THE thing to be able to solve the cell signal issues we have here.

Well, I gave it about one or two months to test out to see if I would actually be able to cancel my landline, and at this point, no way. The concept is really cool, but there are far more negatives associated with the MicroCell than the positives. For me, since I have no cell coverage here, I am going to just keep it, after all, what else can I do with it.

The two big issues I have with the MicroCell is that the phone calls drop constantly (yes, even more than the normal cell tower), and the call quality is really like a bad Skype call. There is a huge delay (I’m talking 1-2 seconds) when talking with anyone, a noticeable echo, and occasionally there is just overall call interference. The fact that AT&T actually has a monthly fee that you can (not required) to pay on this “cell tower” is so laughable that it is an insult that they would even try to charge for what we already pay for with our AT&T/BellSouth landline, AT&T Internet service, and AT&T cell service. To charge me for a signal I already pay for it ridiculous.

So, about all the MicroCell is useful for on an ongoing basis is the ability to send and receive text messages, but I wasn’t able to do that before the MicroCell, so I guess paying $150 for text messages is probably not the best use of money either, but there was no way to know that before hand. If you are still going to get one, be sure to allow for plenty of setup time, along with other ridiculous requirements like making sure it is near a window (see photo below, that isn’t quite close enough) for the GPS signal, and also make sure it isn’t near your WiFi signal (how I don’t know, but that’s what AT&T says). I will start with the Pros since there really aren’t that many. My list of Cons or reasons I would not recommend the MicroCell if you have another option available to you (we don’t) I will continue to evaluate, but in our situation (no AT&T service for miles around) this is our only choice.

AT&T MicroCell Pros

  • You can send and receive text messages (if you couldn’t before)
  • Voice mail works, you just can’t call anyone back
  • If you really HAVE to make a phone call (like long distance), you can, but don’t expect much
  • Range is about 5,000 Sq Feet, so you can get the signal in the whole house (if within widow shot)
  • People think it’s cool to have one (I just threw that one in there, to make this list longer)
  • You get this really cool AT&T M-Cell signal on your iPhone (that’s one doesn’t really count either)

AT&T MicroCell Cons

  • Drops more calls than the regular cell towers do
  • Major interference with the phone calls that don’t drop
  • Major delay talking from person to person, like 1-2 seconds
  • AT&T charges any data against your data use even though you are using your own Internet ISP (whoa)
  • GPS signal is impossible to keep and reconnect if power goes out
  • Setup, while not technically difficult, is a pain, and takes forever (45-90 minutes)
  • If setup doesn’t work on your own, you are pretty much out of luck
  • AT&T has basically no support for the MicroCell (i.e. anyone that knows anything)
  • It costs $150 when AT&T should be providing cell coverage for their own customers
  • Not supposed to put it near the WiFi signal even though it uses an ethernet cable itself
  • Your only “allowed” to add 5 phone numbers that can use the signal (might be 10 can’t remember, but any limit is stupid)
  • Any allowed numbers have to be manually added on the AT&T website, every time you want to change
  • You will need a additional router if you don’t have an empty ethernet slots available
  • They actually charge $15 a month for unlimited use that doesn’t count against your cell service (crazy)

Skype Video Baptism from South Bend to Auburn

Late last week I posted about one of the most incredible baptisms I have ever seen (see Creative Chaos 27 // Skype Video Baptism from Innovate08 in Indiana), a video conference baptism. Most of the staff of our church went to the Innvate08 Conference in South Bend Indiana, while a requested baptism had to take place on that Friday, when they were all gone.  In comes Skype Video.  With the staff in South Bend, and all of us down here in Auburn hooked up the required links and away everything went.

To see the full slideshow of photos from the baptism, click Cindy Wall Skype Baptism gallery.

Skype Video Baptism from South Bend to Auburn

Skype Video Baptism from South Bend to Auburn

What was really amazing to me about this baptism, and what made it so special, had nothing to do with the technology at all.  The personalized value of this baptism, the people it affected, and the time that our Pastor was able to devote to an individual single baptism made it one of the most special baptisms I have seen.  It was a celebration, as it should be, something that was not rushed through, and a baptism that was reflective upon the meaning of our dying to self.  Instead of having to deal with time constraints of a Sunday morning worship hour, everyone was able to slow down and take a little more time.  Rusty read the following scripture was read:

2 Corinthians 5:14-19 // 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

After the actual baptism took place, we hung up with the staff in Indiana (see other posts wow and the baptism) and we were all able to share a meal together.  Later I talked with Cindy and told her that I understood this baptism was special to her, but what she did by doing this, was allow so many other people to participate in a great blessing.  There were perhaps 25-30 other people that made this event special, and I know that everyone that participated was greatly blessed by the whole thing.

What else could anyone ask for in a baptism.  It certainly was special.  If you would like to see the video (from the South Bend, Indiana end) you can view it below.

Creative Chaos 27 // Skype Video Baptism from Innovate08 in Indiana

This is my post for Creative Chaos // 27 (see also guidelines) over at Ragamuffin Soul for this week (which isn’t published quite yet over there but will be soon). If you haven’t participated in Creative Chaos yet there is always time to jump in.  It is a great tool to learn some of the new and innovative ways other churches and groups are being creative in their faith.  Even if you don’t post, just reading through a few of them is a real eye opener of what is done around the country and world in worship.

I have skipped a few weeks for this post but wanted to pick it back up again, there are always so many great ways people worship, and this week, we have a unique opportunity to combine our faith with technology of Skpye.  As much of a techno person as I am, this was my first experience using Skype.

As a full time eBay seller for many many years (a few years ago now) once eBay had purchased Skype, they started pushing it on their larger sellers (us being one of them) and at that point we were not interested in the slightest bit.  I had put it off for as long as I possibly could, and the video baptism from Innovate08 pulled me into Skype.  It has turned out to be a great tool and can be used for many different things, but this week we are using it for a baptism.

Skype Video Baptism from Innovate08 in Indiana

This week almost our entire church staff went to the Innovate08 conference in South Bend Indiana near Granger Community Church, leaving us lay people (gotroot and myself) back here to help with a baptism that, by necessity, had to take place this Friday while the staff was in Indiana.  The church decided that we were going to do the Baptism anyway, and do it through a video conference method using Skype.  We looked at doing the setup with Mogulus so we could capture the live video on both ends as it was happening but just couldn’t pull it off this time.  So, Skype Video, here we go.

Skype Video Baptism

The Baptism will take place this Friday afternoon with a community group around the person being baptized and our head pastor, Rusty Hutson, will be on the big screen doing all the officiating from up in South Bend.  This is certainly the first video baptism we have performed at this church, but somewhere, someone has had to have done this before.  If so, we would love to hear from you and to learn from your experiences.  If we ever do this again we would like to have some way to record the video exchange on both ends so we can later, at a minimum, publish it in house.

What’s Happening on Skype and Twitter This Weekend

Now that I am officially on skype I am sure I will find some other great uses for the service, but for today, it is Creative Chaos 27.

To follow the happenings at Innovate08 on Twitter just see a few of the headliners like @shawnwood, @timastevens, @innovate08 to name a few.  Of course you can always follow me on Twitter as well at @scottfillmer.  I will not be in South Bend this weekend but will post to twitter live from Jordan-Hare stadium for the Auburn vs LSU football game and of course ESPN GameDay (see ESPN College GameDay Comes to Auburn for Tigers vs LSU for details).