My Micro-Salvation

How AT&T held me hostage for $150, and it was worth every penny.


Thursday, June 10th, 10:12pm: I stood in my kitchen, dialed my buddy Allen on my iPhone 3GS, and left him a quick message saying hello.  A historic moment that almost brought me to tears.  Why?  For the last 2 plus years

that my wife and I have lived here, we’ve had no AT&T service anywhere in the apartment.  None.  Nada. Zilch.  Not two bars. Not one bar.  Like an alcoholic in AA, no bars, no matter what.

But ever since Thursday, I’ve been staring at 5 glorious, beautiful bars, from everywhere in our apartment.  What changed?

Thanks to the recommendation from Patrick Norton on this week's "


", AT&T just sold me a MicroCell; a mini 3G cellular network broadcasting from our home office, for a “reasonable” $150.  AT&T developed the device as a workaround for the many, many places in this great country that gets bad or now AT&T reception.  Basically, the MicroCell is routing our calls through our home broadband connection, through the Internet to the AT&T central servers.

AT&T calls it “an innovative solution.” I call it legalized extortion.

Should I have to pay AT&T for a Band-Aid because their signal can’t penetrate drywall in Studio City?  Of course not.  But I’d rather be happy than right, and there’s no point in standing up for my principles if I can’t call anyone to rant about it.  I may be a sucker, but I’m a



And here’s where the Stockholm syndrome gets even more perverse.  While I’m happy to pay for my freedom, my wife doesn’t even have the option.  Even with the MicroCell in place, Genevieve still has no bars on her phone, because she inherited my first generation iPhone when I got the 3GS.  Since the original iPhone doesn’t support 3G, the MicroCell doesn’t help her.  What’s the sensible, prudent solution that involves spending


money and locks us into AT&T



On June 24


, I buy the new iPhone 4 and bump her up to my 3GS.  Then we’re both connected to the MicroCell in the house and, more importantly, I’ve just justified a needless expense to play with a new toy!

Wow, I really am AT&T’s dream customer… Held hostage and willing to pay money to

stay captive.

Here’s to another 2 years of terrible service!