Julie’s gadget diary – T-Mobile Home Internet part 2

ARTICLE – It’s been a few weeks since I wrote a gadget diary post about being selected to join T-Mobile’s invite-only (right now) Home Internet pilot program and I thought it was time to post a follow up to let you all know how it’s been working out for me so far.

What did they send me?

  • T-Mobile branded cellular router with a pre-installed T-Mobile SIM
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Battery cover
  • AC adapter
  • Screwdriver and screws to secure the battery cover
  • Quick start guide

The cellular router

The T-Mobile branded cellular/wireless router is a medium-sized white plastic box that has three LEDs on the top right corner that shows the status of the battery, wireless connection, and LTE. Basically the LEDs are either green or red.

There’s also an LTE button and a power status LED on the front of the router. You would probably think that pressing the button would toggle power or the LTE feature. From what I can tell though, pressing the button does nothing at all.

On the backside of the router, you will find the SIM card slot, a WAN port, 2 LAN ports, a Phone jack, power port, a reset switch, and the power switch. The WAN port and the Phone jack are both disabled on this router but at some point in the future, there’s a possibility that the phone jack may work with T-Mobile’s LineLink home phone service that provides phone service over wireless.

The 2 LAN ports can be used to connect devices that have Ethernet capability or you can even plug in your existing wireless router and use it to provide WiFi throughout your house. In that instance, you would plug the T-Mobile router into your wireless router’s WAN port.

As mentioned, the router comes with a battery which is used as a backup battery in case the power goes out. I’m not sure how long the battery will let you use the router though. I haven’t tested it as I have a whole house generator and don’t worry about the power going out.

Getting set up

 

Getting up and running on the T-Mobile network was a piece of cake. All I did was install the battery, plug in the power cord, wait for the status LEDs to turn green, and then I loaded the T-Mobile Home Internet app on my phone and went through the setup which took a couple of minutes.

Once finished, the main screen of the app shows the current signal strength and total data usage so far for the month.

 

The Devices tab shows all the connected devices. You can click a device and get more info like the IP and MAC address and you can also control when the device has access to the network by setting individual schedules for each device based on the day of the week and time when you want them to be disabled.

The Network tab will let you manage the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz networks by renaming them and changing the passwords.

You can also dig into more advanced settings of the T-Mobile cellular router by logging in from your computer by going to http://192.168.1.1/.

How has T-Mobile Home Internet performed so far?

As mentioned in my previous T-Mobile Home Internet post, I had been using another cellular broadband service (4G Antenna Service) for the past 2 years. That service also used a cellular router with a T-Mobile SIM. With that service, I’ve been used to download speeds of around 14-17Mbps and was expecting the same speeds with the T-Mobile Home Internet router since they both use T-Mobile. Let’s just say that I was happily wrong!

T-Mobile Home Internet speeds are 2 and sometimes even 3 times faster than what I’ve been seeing with 4G Antenna Service the last 2 years. I’ve seen speeds as high as 50Mbps and as low as 16Mbps but the average is usually in the high 30’s. The entries in the screenshot above that are LTE were speed tests with my Huawei P30 Pro with WiFi turned off.

I’ve been able to connect 4 Wyze cameras, an Amazon Echo Dot, a Nest thermostat, 2 MacBooks, 3 smartphones, a Vizio smart TV, and miscellaneous other devices to the router and haven’t noticed any issues with speed.

We’ve watched Netflix and Amazon Prime video through my Vizio TV with no buffering problems, and there have been no issues when Jeanne and I are both watching YouTube videos, on our laptops, etc.

I also tested the LAN (Ethernet) wired connection speeds by turning off the WiFi on my Acer Aspire 5 laptop and connecting to the back of the router with an Ethernet cable. I found the speed test results using Speed.io to be very similar when wired or wireless.

I’ve been asked if this service will work for gamers. I’m not a gamer, so I don’t have any games to test, but here is some ping data which I’ve been told means that the T-Mobile Home Internet service is NOT suitable for gamers due to the high ping times. From what I understand, ping times higher than 25ms are too high/laggy for twitchy games. Note that the data above was taken at 8:30am on a Friday morning, so not even during peak usage times.

Note that there is a bit of fine print with this service. The speeds can be deprioritized during times of data congestion. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been using a T-Mobile based internet solution for the past 2 years and haven’t noticed this happening to me. That said, it all depends on where you live and how many existing T-Mobile users are using the cell towers in your area. This also probably the reason why they are rolling this pilot test out to rural customers first.

The only problem that I’ve noticed so far is with the router’s 2.4GHz network. It seems to be a bit glitchy and sometimes my devices will not connect to it at all. So I used the support option in the T-Mobile Home Internet app to call in and ask about it. I’m happy to say that they pick up immediately and I was able to talk to a human within seconds who answered ALL of my questions thoroughly. One guy called himself T-Mobile Batman which made me laugh. I learned that they have been receiving multiple calls about the 2.4GHz connectivity issues and they are planning to push out a firmware update to the routers very soon. Nice!

I’ve been so happy with the T-Mobile Home Internet service for the last 3 weeks that I called up my previous provider (4G Antenna Service) and canceled the service last week. I’m saving about $30 a month going directly though T-Mobile and I’m getting faster speeds and I no longer have to worry that I’m using too much data and that they’ll drop me. So high fives all the way around!

If you live in a rural area and get invited to try the T-Mobile Home Internet pilot program, I definitely recommend that you do so. I couldn’t be happier and hope it only gets better.

Also, check out part 1 of this story.

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21 thoughts on “Julie’s gadget diary – T-Mobile Home Internet part 2”




  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
      1. I have the same service and router. I plugged an ASUS router into the T-mobile router via Powerline adapters as the range and features on the T-mobile box are very simplistic and the wireless rebate is extremely limited. No problems. I do game with my Xbox One X on the service extensively. I’m no Ninja, but I haven’t experienced any issues.

    1. I also have been using the new Tmobile Home Internet. My results have been very similar but, while my speed are normally in the range you indicated i have hit speeds exceeding 100 mbps.
      I have 2 grandkids that game on it weekly, no complaints at all.
      I have exceeded 1tb of data a month for 3 different months with no slowdown or extra costs.
      I have turned off the Tmobile router’s wifi and connected it via ethernet to a new Asus RT-AC5300 router using the the Asus WAN port. Using the Asus router I have whole house coverage as well as my wife’s she shed in the back yard. It is also allowing over 30 devices to be connected with no problems.
      I agree if you have been invited and a service with 40 to 50mbps would be attractive, then go with Tmobile Home Internet.

      1. I tested the wired connection and the speeds using speed.io were the same or close to wireless speeds. Both methods of connection have fluctuating speed results and each test is different, but for the most part, they are about the same between wired and wireless.

  2. Hi Julie,

    I’ve been a T-Mobile person for nearly 6 years. I love T-Mobile, thety are so better than AT&T and Verizen. I live out in rural area of the Central Valley. So I know it means to have fast data. I’m trying out this 600 mghz Coolpad SURF hotspot. Since I’ve a T-Mobile account, I couldn’t test drive for free, so I wnet to the online retail sites and I bought for almost $25. It came very quickly and I charged the battery and I tturned it on. The speed was so fast and the downloads were so fast, to a few seconds, to a couple of minutes. That’s why I’m going to be using a discount provider that uses T-Mobile Network.

    I have a question to ask of you, how do I get the T-Mobile Home Router? How much does it cost? Can you get from the online retailers?

    Thanks so much

    1. John, I’ll have to check out the Coolpad SURF hotspot. I’ve never heard of it. Who are you using for data?
      As for the T-Mobile Home Internet router, you have to be invited by T-Mobile to join their pilot program. So, unfortunately, you can’t just go to a store and buy it yet. You can check availability in your area though by going here: https://www.t-mobile.com/isp
      The router didn’t cost anything and the service is $50 a month.

    1. I live in Southern Indiana. Yes, it’s just $50 a month for unlimited data. The fine print says “During congestion, Home Internet customers may notice speeds lower than other customers due to data prioritization. As I mentioned in my article. I’ve been using a T-Mobile based internet for the last 2 years and haven’t noticed any deprioritization. But, that’s just my area…

      1. A lot of online game play depends on low latency, which is unlikely with any cellular connection. You can check by using a computer to ping google.com. If the round trip times are over 25 milliseconds, it might have an impact on responsiveness in-game.

  3. Are you talking about 4G Antenna “Shop” rather than “Service”? That’s who I currently have. I had actually called T-mobile and asked that they invite me on this tria but they declined :(.

    My highest download speed using T-mobile via 4G Antenna Shop was 30 Mbps. Winter time, no leaves on the trees and no vacationers 🙂 Best is about half that in the summer. Usually closer to 10Mbps

      1. Huh…. They have changed a few times for the 3 years we’ve been with them and I would hope that this is temporary. I’m a business customer and it shows that I won’t be affected but I’m afraid we could be dropped at any time. We can’t use satellite here as my wife and I work from home and both need reliable VPN.

        We have an AT&T line as a back up but it’s 3 Mbps down and 0.5 up. You can’t do much with that but there’s nothing else here in western NC.

        I saw your article just looking for an update on T-mobiles service. Thanks for all the good info!

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