Speculation has long held that AT&T was planning to offer a femtocell device--namely the 3G MicroCell--to its customers that would, in a manner of speaking, place an AT&T cell tower in the user's home. A femtocell is a device that produces its own cellular signals. There aren't many details yet, but this is what we know so far.
A 3G MicroCell in requires a broadband internet connection and provides support for ten cell phones, but only four of the phones would be able to stream data or voice simultaneously. Anyone one past the first four will have their calls, requests for data access, etc. routed to the normal 3G network service. All of this is supposed to transpire automatically. Even more convenient: the MicroCell can hand off calls to a regular cellular network tower without interruption if you are using your cell phone and leaving your home.
Additionally, the device would cover an area of approximately 5,000 square feet and be secure from unauthorized access. It would also work with any 3G device, not just the iPhone.
According to AT&T:
"There is no minimum requirement for broadband service. However, for best performance, minimum download speeds of 1.5 Mbps and upload speeds of 384 Kbps are recommended. AT&T 3G MicroCell device is not compatible with satellite internet access."
We logged into the site and discovered a photo of the device that AT&T is apparently testing. We contacted AT&T spokesman, Mark Siegel, to find out the status of the femtocell and he stated, "We haven't announced a femto offer yet. We are trialing it now with employees and will do a market trial in Q2."
No information was available regarding cost of the device, fees or effects on the costs on basic calling plans AT&T currently offers.