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Call Quality Complaints Plague AT&T FemtoCall Quality Complaints Plague AT&T Femto

AT&T's 3G Microcell user support forum reveals service quality problems like latency and dropped calls on the operator's new femto service

Michelle Donegan

July 8, 2010

3 Min Read
Call Quality Complaints Plague AT&T Femto

Some customers of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s 3G Microcell have reported problems with poor voice quality and dropped calls on their new home base stations, which will be a setback for the devices that are intended to improve indoor voice service.

The voice quality issues are the latest indication that AT&T's Microcell service is off to a bumpy start. The user complaints follow a recent problem with service activations as well as the controversy over the data pricing policy for the Microcell, which is supplied by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and uses femtocell technology from ip.access Ltd. (See AT&T Suffers Femto Activation 'Issues', AT&T Defends Data Caps on Femtos , AT&T Enforces Data Cap on Femtos , and AT&T's 3G Femtocells Now in More US Cities.)

But even though users have documented their service problems on AT&T's online user support forum, the operator is not offering an explanation for the latency troubles. In response to Light Reading Mobile's questions about the service quality issues, an AT&T spokeswoman said the operator would not be providing information.

There are recent user discussion threads covering problems with voice latency, dropped calls, and even service outages. Some examples of discussion subjects include "3G Microcell calls rapidly 'skip'" and "microcell dropping calls like its [sic] possessed."

Here's a sampling of the recent user complaints about voice latency:

  • The lag is just so bad that I want to return the thing since it's useless to carry on a conversation… That and garbled voice as well at times… Someone suggested we get new sims [sic] on both our iPhones so I am going to try that next week and if it doesn't work... back goes the Microcell.

Others have similar problems:

  • I have the exact the same issue with the voice latency, as well as having calls dropped and some static hiss… The latency issue as many have said is extremely annoying especially as my husband was trying to conduct job interviews. We're still within the 30 day return policy and unless this can be resolved soon, it's not reliable enough to keep it.

Some users have gone to the trouble of measuring the latency themselves:

  • Roughly between 500ms and 1000ms latency during calls. There seem to be instances, where it is getting less obviously

[sic] but the delay is always there… I have been using Vonage for the last 6 years and never had a latency issue, ever (and I run all possible VOIP connection tests that are out there, all came indicate [sic] a good/excellent connection).

There are other users in the discussion groups that report no problems with voice lag or latency, so it is not clear how widespread these problems are or what is causing them.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Michelle Donegan

Michelle Donegan is an independent technology writer who has covered the communications industry for the last 20 years on both sides of the Pond. Her career began in Chicago in 1993 when Telephony magazine launched an international title, aptly named Global Telephony. Since then, she has upped sticks (as they say) to the UK and has written for various publications including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and, most recently, Light Reading.  

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