AT&T femtocell service is included in new data usage limits

This is just mind boggling to me:

We wrote about the AT&T femtocell awhile back.  AT&T’s femtocell, the “Microcell”, is a mini-tower that can allow up to 10 AT&T phones to get 3G signal (four at once) – the devices covers 5000 sq. ft.   The femtocell comes at a one-time cost of $150 dollars and for $20/ month you can recieve unlimited calling over the femtocell.  Some were assuming that usage over the femtocell would not be included in the newly imposed data usage caps that have begun by AT&T and other cell carriers.  However, that is not the case.  Data usage over the femtocell WILL count against data caps.

In a DSL article, AT&T spokesman, Seth Bloom, speaks to AT&T preference of Wi-Fi for offloading data:

3G MicroCell is primarily intended to enhance the voice call quality experience in your home. While it can carry mobile data traffic, that’s not the primary solution it provides. WiFi is the optimal solution for home mobile data use. We encourage people to take advantage of Wi-Fi capabilities – that’s why all of our smartphones include WiFi radios, and usage on WiFi doesn’t count against your mobile data usage bucket.

Wait.  Stop right there.  Let’s go back to how this all works.  The Microcell (AT&T’s femtocell) routes both calling and data over the same broadband connection that is used by Wi-Fi, so why would the user be charged not only for minutes usage but for data usage as well when the data is utilizing the customers already-paid-for broadband connection?  AT&T’s justification here makes absolutely no sense and is upsetting alot of people, which I am surprised that AT&T is willing to do after all of the frustration subscribers have experienced over the 3G network and the added anger that came with the announcements of Microcell pricing.
DSL reports on how “AT&T tries, fails to justify 3G cap-eating Microcell”.  We agree with DSL that most people would probably elect to use their Wi-Fi connection when in the home over using the Microcell, however, that really is not the point.  Quite simply, AT&T is squeezing every possible dollar out of the consumer and this is just to get service to be satisfactory.  And, as it is with the Microcell, you are routing calls over the broadband service that you are already paying for.  So, in addition to being charged for the equipment ($150) and being charged a $20 “unlimited” calling fee (which does not include data) you are in essence being re-charged for your broadband (in some instances by a company which does not even supply your broadband service).  It really is ludicrious when you think about it.  We also must remember that the Microcell is a piece of hardware that benefits the cell carrier – you are doing them a favor by having it.  DSL said it well:
Consider these are users shelling out for a home broadband connection, a wireless 3G and data connection, possibly an added landline connection, the upfront cost of hardware, and an additional $20 if they want unlimited voice that doesn’t eat away at their minutes. Just how much are we expecting the average consumer to pay per month for simple, regular-use voice and data connectivity?Either AT&T’s gunning to make an additional few million annually in revenue off of those incapable of differentiating between 3G and Wi-Fi, or they’re incapable of getting the Wi-Fi/3G femtocell billing straightened out and don’t want to admit it.

Read more about data caps over the Microcell from fiercebroadbandwireless.com.
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