iPhone users receive free mini cellphone towers from AT&T

AT&T iPhone users may qualify for a free MicroCell, which acts as a personal cellphone tower. But there are a couple of catches, according to a report.

iPhone 4 user? Unhappy with AT&T's service? You may qualify for a free MicroCell.

The Verizon iPhone will hit store shelves next week, and as we recently noted, the long-awaited device has received rave reviews for its clear, consistent voice service. Of course, clear and consistent service is what some AT&T customers have long lacked, and since the official unveiling of the Verizon iPhone, AT&T has been scrambling to ensure that its customers don't jump ship.

The latest tactic: Free MicroCell units.

(What's a MicroCell, you ask. It basically acts as a mini cellphone tower. Learn more about their ups and downs here.)

According to Ars Technica, AT&T has offered at least a handful of iPhone users a coupon for a MicroCell, which helps improve 3G service in a small area, such as a cubicle or an office. There are caveats, of course: to qualify for the MicroCell, you have to agree to stay with AT&T for another year. If you bail on AT&T before that year is up, you'll pay a pro-rated fee for the MicroCell.

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"AT&T hasn't formally announced the MicroCell offer," notes Jacqui Cheng of Ars Technica, "indicating that it's only being extended to select customers. The criteria for discerning who gets a MicroCell and who doesn't isn't very clear, but some believe it's going out to iPhone users who are at or near the end of their contracts." (AT&T, for its part, has not commented publicly one way or another on the MicroCell rumors.)

So assuming AT&T is dishing out free MicroCells on a relatively large scale, will the offer really help appease disgruntled customers and show that it cares about improving service? Maybe. But as AT&T iPhone users ourselves (one of us happy with the service, the other less so), we can't help but wonder if this whole ploy reflects rather poorly on AT&T. After all, AT&T is essentially admitting that its service is in need of an extra boost. What do you think? Drop us a line in the comments section below.

If you are tempted to jump ship, check out our Verizon iPhone review roundup.

RELATED: iPhone: 7 reasons to stick with AT&T

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