• You've been granted Beta access to this site, allowing you to explore some of the new features while they're still under construction. More information can be found in the Beta forum.

ATT micro-cell using excessive data

mikefamig

Senior Member
I believe that my ATT micro-cell has been the cause of excessive cellular  data usage.
 
I've been experimenting and testing a couple of different video surveillance apps on my IOS devices and may have learned something about our micro-cell. It appears that my phone will choose the micro-cell over the wifi connection even when the wifi is signal is plenty strong enough for service.
 
I first noticed the problem when my cell data usage spiked up recently. On further snooping I found that one of my video cam apps was using a large portion of the data. This particular app call OWLR for Foscam switches automatically between the wifi/LAN address for the cam and the WAN/gateway address for the cam presumably depending on which signal is stronger. I suspect that it is choosing the micro cell signal over the wifi signal even when in close proximity to the wifi access point. This is not good because the micro-cell is billed as cell data. Or maybe the app connects to the WAN first and does a fail-over to wifi which is still not good.
 
I further learned that the micro cell was the cause of a lot of my problems with connecting to my elk XEP when in my yard. My iphone seemed to be having trouble choosing between wifi and cell service when in close proximity to both like when I'm in my back yard. I cured my elk connection problems by simply turning off cell service whenever on the property.
 
So heads up if you use a micro-cell. It may be costing you more than you know.
 
Mike.
 

ano

Senior Member
mikefamig said:
I believe that my ATT micro-cell has been the cause of excessive cellular  data usage.
 
I've been experimenting and testing a couple of different video surveillance apps on my IOS devices and may have learned something about our micro-cell. It appears that my phone will choose the micro-cell over the wifi connection even when the wifi is signal is plenty strong enough for service.
 
I first noticed the problem when my cell data usage spiked up recently. On further snooping I found that one of my video cam apps was using a large portion of the data. This particular app call OWLR for Foscam switches automatically between the wifi/LAN address for the cam and the WAN/gateway address for the cam presumably depending on which signal is stronger. I suspect that it is choosing the micro cell signal over the wifi signal even when in close proximity to the wifi access point. This is not good because the micro-cell is billed as cell data. Or maybe the app connects to the WAN first and does a fail-over to wifi which is still not good.
 
I further learned that the micro cell was the cause of a lot of my problems with connecting to my elk XEP when in my yard. My iphone seemed to be having trouble choosing between wifi and cell service when in close proximity to both like when I'm in my back yard. I cured my elk connection problems by simply turning off cell service whenever on the property.
 
So heads up if you use a micro-cell. It may be costing you more than you know.
 
Mike.
The technology is still new, and maybe you didn't read the fine print as much as you could have.  If you did, you would learn that this micro-cell is usually not just for you, but it also can be used by your neighbors.  So those neighbors across the street with those 3 kids that watch movies on their phones are actually doing it on your Internet. 
 
You didn't say if AT&T is your Internet company also.  If they are, this traffic is not going against any caps you have, but its still there nevertheless.  And as you have discovered, micro-cells can be bandwidth hogs even if nobody is using it.  If AT&T is NOT your Internet provider, the neighbor's traffic likely IS going against your cap, so watch out.
 
I'm guessing you got the micro-cell because cellular coverage was bad in your house, but there are better solutions.  I personally have used amplifiers from this company for many years: https://www.wilsonamplifiers.com/
 
So I can tell you the stuff works. For about $900 you can put an antenna in your attic and cover your whole house.  It picks up and amplifies the signal you already have.
 
Another solution is Wi-Fi calling.  The iPhone and others have this and some operators support it. We have iPhones with T-Mobile and we can turn it on.  So you are bypassing cellular and using Wi-Fi.  It works pretty good. The only down side, is if you are on a call on Wi-Fi and you leave your house, you MAY get disconnected when driving away.  Otherwise it does work well.  I have even used it in places with no cellular coverage. 
 

mikefamig

Senior Member
ano said:
The technology is still new, and maybe you didn't read the fine print as much as you could have.  If you did, you would learn that this micro-cell is usually not just for you, but it also can be used by your neighbors.  So those neighbors across the street with those 3 kids that watch movies on their phones are actually doing it on your Internet. 
That is just not true. Each GSM device needs to be provisioned or registered with the micro-cell before it will work. I have a relatively new Ipad that can't access it because it is not on the same ATT plan as the MC and devices that do use it.
 
ano said:
You didn't say if AT&T is your Internet company also.  If they are, this traffic is not going against any caps you have, but its still there nevertheless.  And as you have discovered, micro-cells can be bandwidth hogs even if nobody is using it.  If AT&T is NOT your Internet provider, the neighbor's traffic likely IS going against your cap, so watch out.
I have a 3GIG shared data plan so it is capped at 3gig/month for 3 devices under the plan. Up until now we don't use even 2gig per month.
 
ano said:
I'm guessing you got the micro-cell because cellular coverage was bad in your house, but there are better solutions.  I personally have used amplifiers from this company for many years: https://www.wilsonamplifiers.com/
 
So I can tell you the stuff works. For about $900 you can put an antenna in your attic and cover your whole house.  It picks up and amplifies the signal you already have.
The micro-cell was free from ATT. They will give it to you if they see that the signal in your are is poor and you hound them a little.
 
ano said:
Another solution is Wi-Fi calling.  The iPhone and others have this and some operators support it. We have iPhones with T-Mobile and we can turn it on.  So you are bypassing cellular and using Wi-Fi.  It works pretty good. The only down side, is if you are on a call on Wi-Fi and you leave your house, you MAY get disconnected when driving away.  Otherwise it does work well.  I have even used it in places with no cellular coverage.
I'll look into the wifi calling.
 
Mike.
 

mikefamig

Senior Member
ano
 
thanks for the tip on wifi calling. I do have ATT and they do supply it and it's working on my Iphone. I was able to turn on wifi-calling, off cellular on my, turn off the M-cell and make a nice clear phone call.
 
Mike.
 

ano

Senior Member
mikefamig said:
That is just not true. Each GSM device needs to be provisioned or registered with the micro-cell before it will work. I have a relatively new Ipad that can't access it because it is not on the same ATT plan as the MC and devices that do use it.
This must have changed because it always wasn't true, and I bet the reason is because AT&T is NOT your Internet provider, meaning you would have had to pay for their data, which is not fair.  People probably complained about that one.  I  see around 2015 they added a list of supported users.
 
Wi-Fi calling does work pretty good, with a few annoyances. I'd definitely prefer it over a micro-cell.
 

pete_c

Guru
You are lucky Mike.
 
Here complained to T-Mobile about a poor LTE signal and their response was that they were over subscribed.  Well they were honest.
 
They have since added a new cell tower and now getting nice signals and fast internet speeds.
 

ano

Senior Member
pete_c said:
You are lucky Mike.
 
Here complained to T-Mobile about a poor LTE signal and their response was that they were over subscribed.  Well they were honest.
 
They have since added a new cell tower and now getting nice signals and fast internet speeds.
Just wait maybe 2 years. T-Mobile has purchased a GIANT swath of 700Mhz and 600Mhz band, that was formally used by the upper UHF TV Channels. T-Mobile will be using it for their 5G deployments, and better coverage. Note 700Mhz and 600Mhz are great bands because they penetrate buildings so sell. 700Mhz is in the new iPhones and some Android phones now but 600Mhz is not available in any phones just yet, but should be soon.  In a few years, T-mobile will have the fastest Internet, at least until the others catch up.
 

pete_c

Guru
Yes here purchased multiple SIM cards (5). 
 
Using one for a home failover internet and phone connection to the CC internet and VOIP stuff.
 
The Ooma VOIP box works fine with the T-Mobile internet connection.
 
Top