If you experience shoddy AT&T reception inside your home or small office, you may be eligible for a free AT&T MicroCell device, according to what appears to be an internal document leaked to Engadget.
The MicroCell is a little box that plugs into your home internet connection and acts as short-range, personal AT&T cell tower of sorts. Sounds perfect, right? The kicker is that you normally have to buy the thing for $200 (starting this Sunday—it used to cost $150), which seems to just skate along the edges of outrageous if you already get lousy reception.
My AT&T phone, for instance, sits in front of a giant window all day long and I watch as the phone’s signal hovers between zero and one bar all day long. This is in the middle of Boston and happens whether I use my iPhone or any one of the other AT&T phones I’ve amassed over the years. The idea of paying AT&T $200 for a device that uses my own internet connection so I can make phone calls doesn’t really appeal to me, believe it or not.
Thankfully, it appears that the company will be sending out mailers to “the top 7.5% of 3G wireless customers identified as likely to experience poor in-building coverage at home or in small offices,” offering a free MicroCell device for their (our) trouble. I’ll be interested to see if I’m on this list or not.
From the looks of it, the free MicroCells will have to be picked up at AT&T retail locations and you’ll have to agree to stay on with AT&T for an entire year—this is regardless of your current cell phone contract. If you leave before the year is up, you’ll have to either return the MicroCell or pay $200 minus $16.67 per month for every month out of the year you’ve served.
It’s a step in the right direction, for sure. I’d guess that several people in AT&T’s troubled New York and San Francisco markets will be getting these mailers, and we’ll see how many customers in other parts of the country get them as well. The timing is certainly interesting, too. With the Verizon iPhone hitting the market in the next couple of weeks, this may be a preemptive strike by AT&T to try to minimize would-be defectors.
More on TIME.com:
AT&T To Combat Verizon With New Text Plans, (Technically) Faster Network?
Consumer Reports Names AT&T Worst Wireless Service Provider