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Hill_Country

T-mobile Home Internet

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Last week I received an email invitation for T-mobile Home Internet.  I hadn't heard of this, but I figured $50/mo was an even better deal than my Verizon prepaid account IF it was really unlimited data.

There is a separate webpage not connected to the regular Tmo site and from what I was able to learn it is something that Tmo is slowly rolling out by invitation only.  From the website, it appears that this service is targeted on rural areas that may not have good broadband connections.  I'm actually, just outside of San Antonio and have excellent cable and cell internet, but I'm always looking for a better deal for when traveling.  

When I called to order, I was told that it is really unlimited data - no caps, no network management in times of high use (although I find that difficult to believe).  I asked if I could use it in my RV and, after a slight pause, the nice lady told me that it was designed for home use, but if my home was an RV she didn't see why it wouldn't work.  I also asked her if it used the 600 meg band that Tmo is promoting because of its extended range and was told that it did use the 600 meg band and one other that she didn't remember.

Two days later - today - UPS delivered the device.  It is a little larger than most hotspots - about 4 x 6 x 1.5 - and it has a couple of ethernet ports if you want to hardwire a connection.  It has a wallwart and an internal battery that I have yet to see how long it will run on.

I connected my phone to the wifi - it has both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands - and got a 68/38 meg speedtest.  My chromebook turned in a 93/33 meg speedtest.  This is far superior to anything I've seen on a hotspot around here.  My experience has been that, at least in South Texas, Tmo's coverage is at least as good as Verizon's.  I have phones and hotspots with both Tmo and Verizon and, depending on the signal strength at a particular location, they both provide excellent service.

I don't think this plan is going to go away the way that Verizon's prepaid unlimited plan disappeared, but - so far - this is looking like a keeper.

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Thanks for the info Hill.  I wasn't aware of this program, it appears this program was rolled out in March of this year.  We are T Mobile customers currently, have been for over a year now.  I went to their website and signed up to be on their waiting list, I'm hoping it won't be too long of a wait.

Please keep us informed as to your experiences with this new service!

 

Dan

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T-Mobile has been rolling this out since March - however in the terms of service and FAQ (https://www.t-mobile.com/isp/FAQs), it is supposed to be geographically fixed to your activation address:

"The T-Mobile Home Internet LTE Wi-Fi Gateway will be geographically locked to your specified home's location so you won't be able to move it from one home to another."

So this shouldn't work for mobile RVers who change locations.  Please do let us know if your experience is different if you're not stationary. 

Also, when we initially covered it back in March, they did specify that the plan IS subject to network management. But it's possible they removed that, I'm not seeing it mentioned in the current FAQ. 

 - Cherie

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Also, from the 'see full terms' pop up off the ISP page - https://www.t-mobile.com/ISP  (bolded highlights mine):

 

Quote

During congestion, Home Internet customers may notice speeds lower than other customers due to data prioritization. Not available in all areas. While taxes and fees vary by state, qualifying accounts pay just $50 for monthly service. Most states do not tax internet access (including IN, KY, NE, & WA). For states that tax internet access, qualifying accounts will still pay only $50 (ex. Cleveland, Ohio: $50 = $45.91 rate plan + $4.09 sales taxes/regulatory fees”). Plus taxes & fees for accounts currently paying for a T-Mobile wireless line with additional taxes & fees: Monthly Regulatory Programs (RPF) & Telco Recovery Fee (TRF) totaling $1.16 per data only line ($0.15 for RPF & $1.01 for TRF) apply; taxes/fees approx. 3-12% of bill. Ask a sales rep for details at your location. Qualifying account and credit approval required. For use only with T-Mobile LTE Wi-Fi Gateway for in-home use at location provided at activation. If canceling service, return gateway or pay $207. Videostreaming resolution depends on available speeds. For best performance, leave video streaming applications at their default resolution setting. Not compatible with some live TV streaming services. AutoPay: Without AutoPay, $5 more. May not be reflected on 1st bill. Coverage not available in some areas. Network Management: Service may be slowed, suspended, terminated, or restricted for misuse, abnormal use, interference with our network or ability to provide quality service to other users, or significant roaming. On-device usage is prioritized over tethering usage, which may result in higher speeds for data used on device. See T-Mobile.com/OpenInternet for details. 

 

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46 minutes ago, Technomadia said:

T-Mobile has been rolling this out since March - however in the terms of service and FAQ (https://www.t-mobile.com/isp/FAQs), it is supposed to be geographically fixed to your activation address:

"The T-Mobile Home Internet LTE Wi-Fi Gateway will be geographically locked to your specified home's location so you won't be able to move it from one home to another."

So this shouldn't work for mobile RVers who change locations.  Please do let us know if your experience is different if you're not stationary. 

Also, when we initially covered it back in March, they did specify that the plan IS subject to network management. But it's possible they removed that, I'm not seeing it mentioned in the current FAQ. 

 - Cherie

Thanks for the heads up on what to look for, Cherie.  Something I noticed when I ordered is that Tmo is obviously targeting the home internet (cable) market.  They wanted to know who my current provider is, speed, cost, etc.  

OTOH, in going through their setup and administration web pages, I noticed several references to *mobile* internet service and - other than the fine print you found - I haven't found any cautions about changing location.

A couple of things that I've noticed after playing with the device a bit this evening, it is just like a conventional hotspot in that it has a backup battery that facilitates mobile operation.  It differs from most hotspots in that it has ethernet ports and the same configuration pages as one would find for a router and accessed by IP 192.168.1.1.  I've scanned through all these pages and haven't noticed anything that implies that the location is restricted, but it might be done on their end so who knows.

So, with all that said, I see a road trip in my future.  I'll keep you updated.  

Best,

John

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Thanks for the update Hill. I’ll be very interested to know if your new service will work from your RV.  That would be a huge plus but for us here we have AT&T internet service (In home) and it’s not very good, 50 mbs tops while Spectrum customers are enjoying 200 mbs in this same area but for a lot more $$$.

 

Dan

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28 minutes ago, Dapperdan said:

Thanks for the update Hill. I’ll be very interested to know if your new service will work from your RV.  That would be a huge plus but for us here we have AT&T internet service (In home) and it’s not very good, 50 mbs tops while Spectrum customers are enjoying 200 mbs in this same area but for a lot more $$$.

 

Dan

What do you need more than 50 mbs for?  I never get over 25 mbs and I don't have a problem, even when it drops to 5 mbs.  I stream video, have several cameras going, and browse at the same time with no slow down at all.

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Well, I can add a couple of data points.  This morning Fang and I had to run an errand so I tossed the home internet device (it seems like more than a hotspot) on the seat of the truck and set my phone to use only wifi for data and to stream Pandora (Fang prefers hits of the 50's and 60's, of course) while running speedtest.net.  I only got about ten miles from home, but the route was mostly dense city so I'm sure I hit a lot of different towers.

It worked like a champ and showed me speeds from a low of 38 meg to 114 meg with an average of probably 75 meg.  I think we can safely say that the device is not locked to a particular tower.  It may be locked to a broader geographic region, though, but - other than Tmo's web page - there's no indication of that. 

My return route was through a known dead spot and I lost the signal right were I expected to lose it.  Oddly, the lights on the device continued to show that I had an LTE signal.

One thing I noticed last night when I was playing with the thing was that I couldn't get back in to the configuration pages with all the router stuff until I did a factory reset.  Their FAQ addresses this and attributes it to proxy settings so it is a known problem.  I don't envision doing a lot of configuration so this isn't a huge problem and if I had a complex configuration, I'd save it to a file and reload after doing a reset.  I'm going to try an ethernet connection to see if I can get in to the config pages that way.

*IF* it turns out that there is some sort of geographic lock, perhaps a factory reset will overcome this problem.  Alternatively, if we find a geographic restriction, I intend to try swapping the SIM in to a phone that uses the 600 meg band to see if I can access the unlimited data plan that way. 

So far, I'm quite impressed with the device.  Speeds are better than I usually see on my prepaid Verizon 8800 MiFi and the price is $20/mo less expensive.  There are no antenna ports on this device, but I can't tell that the antenna ports on the 8800 make any difference.  I'll have to see if my Wilson booster uses the 600 meg band, but I doubt that it does.  The ethernet ports are a nice touch.

I plan to stream the TV through the device, tonight, just to see how it does.  Because of my business data needs, I'm not planning to cut my 300 meg pipe any time soon, but for general home use, this little box may turn out to be a viable alternative. 

 

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On 10/31/2019 at 7:28 PM, Technomadia said:

Also, from the 'see full terms' pop up off the ISP page - https://www.t-mobile.com/ISP  (bolded highlights mine):

 

 

I've been using the Tmobile Home Internet for a couple of weeks, now, and I'm impressed. 
 
For home use, its not going to replace my 300 meg cable internet, but for someone with more limited internet needs I think it is a keeper.  The unit - I don't want to call it a hotspot, because it is more than the typical hotspot - doesn't have the range of my router and access points, but it would be easy enough to add those features using the two ethernet ports.  I don't think I've had to reset the unit a single time as my Verizon mifi requires.
 
For RV use, it has some unique advantages and disadvantages.  The big advantage is that it has a significantly greater range using the 600 MHz band.  This is also a disadvantage because Tmo is still rolling out this band.
 
I'm sitting in the NAS Corpus Christi fam camp.  Because this is an airfield located on a peninsula of land, it is difficult to install cell sites and there is only one nearby tower that appears to service both Verizon and Tmo (and probably others).  We were here a couple of weeks ago and I had to use a directional antenna and booster to get a decent signal for my Verizon mifi.  It wasn't good enough for streaming but would support browsing.  It was only slightly better than my Tmo phone (which doesn't use the 600 MHz band).
 
This week I'm parked two sites from where we were and the Tmo Home Internet unit picks up the Tmo signal very well - no antenna or booster.  I can count the number of times the TV has buffered on my fingers.  Of course, in the RV I don't need much range so that isn't a problem.  FWIW, according to their tech support, WeBoost doesn't (yet) make a booster that includes the 600 MHz band.
 
The bottom line is that as long as I'm in an area with 600 MHz coverage, this thing is great and the price - $50/mo - beats my Verizon prepaid plan.  Like Verizon, the speed varies considerably day to day and hour to hour so this is very unscientific, but the Tmo unit beats the Verizon 8800 hands down on speed as well.
 
My initial fears that the thing was somehow geo locked to only my home location appear to be unfounded.  I *think* the (rather vague) restriction to use in only one location is so that users won't complain that the thing doesn't work if they travel to somewhere there is no 600 MHz coverage.  I don't yet have a sense of how widely available the 600 MHz signal coverage is, but Tmo seems to be very aggressively rolling it out.
 
For my current location, the Tmo Home Internet wins hands down over my Verison MiFi.  Only time will tell how widely available the coverage is so I won't be ditching the 8800 any time soon.
 
 

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