Monday, August 23, 2010

Microcell report

The latest rumors about the microcell are that AT&T and Cisco are working on what sounds like a fairly major overhaul. The rumor mill is talking about a hardware upgrade, which would mean AT&T would swap out all of the units deployed so far.

That the problems that we are having with the microcell couldn't be fixed with a simple software update would be astonishing to me. From what I've read from people who have analyzed the pictures of the microcell motherboard in FCC filings, the chipsets being used certainly seem like they'd be capable of handling the workload without any trouble. The only possible problem I could imagine would be that they maybe didn't give the thing enough RAM, since the speculation is that the board is running some sort of Linux variant (specifically, BusyBox) at least at the higher levels.

A lot of the speculation has centered around the upload cap, but that doesn't quite ring true, at least for us, since the problems have always been that we got garbling on the calling party's audio, which has nothing to do with the upload data channel.

But, perhaps, the CPU gets maxed out trying to deal with audio and data at the same time. But then, wouldn't we get bidirectional garbling?

And shame on AT&T for not being more forthcoming about the problem, their plan for fixing it, and the timing of that plan. They've had plenty of time to figure out what's going on. It's one thing to sell an opaque appliance device to your customers and tell them nothing about how it works so long as it actually works. But you can't just sell a box that doesn't work and then just refuse to say anything out loud about what you're going to do.

Apple's "death touch" iPhone 4 antenna problem and the response is a stark contrast. Apple responded in less than a month with their analysis of the problem and their action plan for working around the problem. Their analysis, by their claim at least, is that the problem was/is much less widespread than has been made out, and they've said that anyone who wants one can have a free case.

AT&T, by contrast, has remained silent for months (at least) about this problem, that from all appearances is a show-stopper for huge numbers of people who have bought the device.

Oh, and they tested this thing for almost two years prior to rolling it out.

AT&T, you're making it real, real hard to stay loyal. You really are.

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