The saga for setting up my AT&T 3G MicroCell has come to an end. Today I gave the support line another call and spoke to Adam. I told him my story and he said they had fixed the activation in the middle of the week and I shouldn't have any problems related to activation after last Thursday. I also asked him about whether or not activation involves the device because the previous guy told me it did not. Again he corrected what the other tech had said and told me it would only be activated once the device connected.
I went through the exercise of submitting removing the existing device from my account and re-added it under a different name. I reset it, but still I just got "Activation Pending". I had read online about problems people were having with their router causing trouble so I connected the MicroCell directly into the cable modem. I restarted the cable modem and MicroCell and within twenty minutes the 3G light, which had been flashing for days was finally solid. I ran for my phone and within a few seconds it detected the MicroCell and displayed five bars. It wasn't long before a text message and email came through from AT&T telling me the MicroCell had been activated. The activation process definitely involved the hardware connection to complete. Hallelujah!!!!
The battle was still not over, I now had to figure out how to include my Apple AirPort Extreme router in the mix. I unplugged everything and connected cable modem->router->MicroCell. Upon restart and lots of waiting, no dice. I tried an alternate installation suggested in the documentation cable modem->MicroCell->router. Restarted everything and voila everything worked.
I made my first call and despite having a "Call Failure" message on the first attempted dial I was able to call my dad and had a good test call. The call quality was better than before, but still sounded a bit choppy at times. Of course I don't know if that was my end or his end.
So for now I will begin testing this crazy AT&T MicroCell device and will put together a review in the coming weeks.
2 Things I Learned While Setting Up My AT&T 3G MicroCell:
1. The activation process will only be complete once the hardware successfully connects to the AT&T network. Until that happens you will see Activation Pending when looking online.
2. You may need to tweak the settings on your router to make the MicroCell work. My current setup of modem->MicroCell->router is considered a last ditch effort by AT&T. I did find an Apple Support Discussion with possible AirPort Extreme settings changes to make it work in the modem->router->MicroCell setup.