iPhone 5 Plus AT&T MicroCell Equals… a Quiet Afternoon (and not in a good way) UPDATED


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Meet my iPhone 5 lock screen. Now take a close look…

Screen Shot 2012 09 21 at 4 10 15 PM

See the ATT Microcell symbol at the top? No? Me either and that’s a problem. You see, I live in rural Texas where there is no AT&T cell reception without the help of a signal booster. Oh, no, sorry, I got that wrong. I live in SUBURBAN NEW JERSEY WHERE THERE IS NO AT&T RECEPTION WITHOUT THE HELP OF A MICROCELL.

And guess what? The microcell doesn’t work with my new iPhone right now. And those two bars you see? That’s actually the best reception I’ve gotten, and that was only because I had just walked in from down the street where I was making sure the phone actually worked.

I wasn’t sure there was an issue until I did some snooping…

Screen Shot 2012 09 21 at 4 12 58 PM

And before you ask, turning off LTE doesn’t do a bit to help. Here’s hoping they get this sorted out quickly.

Are you reliant on a microcell for reception? Are you seeing something similar? Let us know in the comments.


UPDATE: I got home this evening and the microcell is working. I expected it would be since my contact at ATT told me the entire microcell system was down as to many new phones were being activated and all the assorted system changes were happening all at once. It seems the handoff between the individual microcells and the network simply wasn’t happening. Thankfully… now it is.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.

7 Comments on "iPhone 5 Plus AT&T MicroCell Equals… a Quiet Afternoon (and not in a good way) UPDATED"

  1. I live in Rollingwood, a “town” totally surrounded by Austin, Texas, and as its name implies, it’s hilly. And the cell reception is sucky. So yes, I got myself a Microcell booster, and my 4S drops its connection to the 4S pretty regularly. If I don’t move around the house too much (or leave the house), it *usually* stays connected, but not always. The only way to “fix” it is to put my iPhone in airplane mode for 5-10 seconds, and then take it out of airplane mode again and wait for it to connect.

    I’m with you, Dan: Yet another AT&T #fail.

    • dan is not talking about the old iPhone 4 problems – but the NEW iPhone 5 problems that are TERRIBLE.

      the ATT MicroCell simply will not work at all with the 5 !


  2. its a complete disaster. every time there is a new launch, there is always at least ONE reason that I can’t access the new “assets” without hardship. This time – WHO WOULD HAVE EVER GUESSED ?

    With no macrocell, we have no phone connection. So here we are – two new 32 gb black iPhone 5’s – that are USELESS.

    It’s a disgrace. There is NO reason ATT and Apple should not have seen this in the cards.

    In an emergency situation – I have no phone. In ANY situation – i have no phone.

    Will it take a day ? A week ? How will it be handled ?

    This is not the kind of experience I was looking for. It’s terrible.

  3. I wouldn’t have a huge issue if they had warned ahead of time but for it to pop up as a surprise. Bad

  4. We have the same problem. We got three 32 gb iPhone 5’s and were unable to connect them to microcell.. I called AT&T and they said that it will take them 72 hours to investigate the issue..all three phone have “no service” inside the house. With iPhone 4S we at least had one or two bars without microcell .. I hope they can fix it soon ..

  5. OK – i am seeing some “fixes” –


    You log into your account, manage devices on the AT&T website, find your microcell, deactivate it then you will have to put in all the details again to reactivate it, your address, microcell serial number ect, primary phone number and after that it starts the reactivation sequence and software upgrade which takes around an hour, then you get a text message to say it’s been done then you toggle aircraft mode on and off and your phone should see the microcell again like your old iphone did.

    they are saying this works. I am trying it now –

    I recently added a second iPhone5 and it immediately took the Mcell signal ( it was NOT the primary number on the account, so this may have something to do with the issue).

    Earlier, I tried cutting an old larger SIM card to fit the new nano size, but while it worked in the iphone5, it did not accept Mcell signal.


    today, I waited in line for over 17 hours and actually managed to go BACKWARD in technology. Its amazing.

  6. I bought the new Iphone 5, turned it on and off to match up to my AT&T Microcell and the “3M” appeared at the top of the display. I thought I was all set, made a call and walked 30 feet from my mini cell and started hearing “You still there???”. Shows full bars but my 3g worked anywhere in the house or outside. Need to stand 10 feet from the tower to make calls now–I am not impressed–

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