Cell phone tower in my neighborhood! Okay.

Ever get a phone call and run outside, hoping to get a decent signal before the call drops?

One of our neighbors came ’round with a petition the other day.

There are plans to build a cell phone tower on the Catawba campus, near our house.  The petition was asking the planning board to postpone a decision until the neighborhood has time to study “the situation.”

The board met last week, and I haven’t heard from anybody who knows what happened.

We’ve had a few battles in the past over zoning.  If they want to build a dorm or parking lot across the street from my house, I want to register my voice against it.

But I’m not that unhappy about a cell phone tower that’s on the other side of the campus.

In fact, it would be kind of nice to get a better signal at home.

A few years ago, we did away with the home phone.  We noticed that we never used it and it cost a lot.

At that time, we seemed to enjoy a better signal on cell phones than we have recently.  I think the AT&T signal has degraded a bit because of the iPhone’s popularity.

But if it weren’t the iPhone, it would be something else.  These devices are a fact of life.

I’m not sure if we’ll be able to see the tower from our house or not.  I doubt it.

I’m pretty sure I’m not nearly as hypocritical as some of the politicians I see on TV.  Consider the adulterers leading the battle to impeach a President for adultery.  The deficit hawks leading the battle for massive tax cuts for the super wealthy.  Or even those who have had government health care since the day they were born railing against the adequacy of government health care.

But I also know that I’m not Gandhi or Henry David Thoreau.  I’m a normal human being, limited in knowledge and point of view, capable of arranging my thoughts to justify what I do — and probably equally as hypocritical as the next guy or gal.

Wouldn’t protesting a cell phone tower, while making daily use of a cell phone, make the hypocrisy a little blatant?

So I see no need to fight this one.  If Catawba College can lease a bit of property and make a few dollars for higher education — and enhance the quality of our phone calls — I’m okay with that.

Of course, I’m about three blocks away from the site.  I’m sure I’d feel different if I lived right next door.

Wow — you mean my iPhone, and AT&T cell phone service, could actually work again!

Wow! If I get a new iPhone, buy a new device for $150, and pay an additional $240 a year, my AT&T cell phone service could actually work.



The AT&T MicroCell -- what I need in order to talk on the phone at home
The AT&T MicroCell -- what I need in order to talk on the phone at home

I visited the AT&T store today. The sales rep, a friendly lad who knows his phones and probably shaves once a month whether he needs it or not, showed me their remarkable new product, the AT&T 3G MicroCell.

“This is like having a cell phone tower in your house,” said the sales rep. “You’re guaranteed five bars. Guaranteed.”

This sounded pretty good, since I’ve grown accustomed to one bar, or two, or frequently “no service.”

But I used to get five bars all the time. In fact, a couple of years ago, we did away the the normal land line. We did this for three reasons.

1. The bill was enormous.
2. Nobody ever used it to call out.
3. Nobody ever used it to call in.
4. I had an awesome, new, 1st generation, 2G, iPhone.  Great phone. Very expensive. With visual voicemail. Very handy.
5. The reception in our house was pretty damn good.

The iPhone 2G -- the one I have now, that works when Im out and about
The iPhone 2G -- the one I have now, that works when I'm "out and about"

However, my original, 2G iPhone won’t work with the new AT&T MicroCell. I’ll need an upgrade for that.

I plan to upgrade anyway, eventually — but the current phone works fine and we don’t get 3G service here anyway. So I was going to wait until my town — Salisbury, NC — got 3G service before spending money on a phone that used it.

I learned today that my wife and daughter, who have newer phones, would get excellent service, from home, with the new MicroCell.

“Their phones phones will be great, but you’ll still get lousy service in your house,” the sales rep said. “Cell phones just don’t work that great in your house. They do better when you’re out and about. Unless you have the MicroCell.”

the iPhone 3G, what I need (and want) so that I can get a signal at my house -- again
the iPhone 3G, what I now need (and want) so that I can get a signal at my house -- again

The service used to be equally good or bad in the house or out and about.

Is this a conspiracy? Does AT&T know where we live and intentionally blot out service at our residence — so we’ll get a home phone again, or buy the Microcell?

Are they blotting out everybody’s house, so everybody has to buy extra equipment to use their phones at home?

Seems like it to me.

I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t get good cell phone service at home.

Also — with the MicroCell, your minutes — while connected to it — are unlimited.

So here’s the AT&T recommendation: Spend $150 for the MicroCell, $20 a month for the MicroCell service, and get a new phone that will access the MicroCell. Then, I’ll be able to talk from my home, with good reception.

Why has the service degraded so?

“They’ve been working on the towers for the past year,” said the guy in the store. “Preparing for 3G.”

Here’s my question. If all this extra cost is required in order to make calls from home that don’t get dropped, and receive calls from people who dial my number — then what are the other minutes for? You know, those 3,000 minutes a month I’m currently buying?

What are those minutes, chopped liver?

I guess they are.