Talk to me about T-Mobile's "Internet Gateway Device"

I switched my cell phone service to T-Mobile from AT&T a while ago. I have a thread on The Winter of My Discontent with AT&T somewhere, but I’m too lazy to look it up.

I still have AT&T internet (my cell & internet were not bundled together), but I’m thinking of switching to T-Mobile on that, too. I just spent about 15 minutes on the phone with a very intense, loud, fast-talking, hyped-up T-M salesperson who kept interrupting me and was this far :pinching_hand:t4: from asking me to accept Jesus as my personal Savior. He assured me I’d have great coverage at my house and blew lots of sunshine up my skirt blahblahblah, but I’m not so sure.

I’d like to know if anyone has had experience with this thing. Okay, this Gateway Device is not wired like my AT&T router, which has a physical wire running from a pole in the alley to the house and out through a box in the wall where it connects physically to the router.

The Gateway Device looks like this and after you plug it into a regular socket for power, you CAN connect it to the TV or computer with an ethernet cable, but otherwise everything is wireless inside the house. You manage it with an app on your phone.

The T-Mobile coverage map shows that I have great coverage in my area, but only a month ago, I didn’t. Hmmm…I feel suspicious. I don’t have cable, but only watch streaming shows and the few stations I get OTA (over the air with an indoor antenna). I can’t believe I’ll actually get great coverage with this T-M wireless gizmo.

@ParallelLines you gave me some great help with my phone a while ago, but I don’t know if your T-Mobile expertise includes/included internet coverage. If so, I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Anybody have experience with this device?

I am using the T-Mobile 5G hotspot and have had no issues with it. I stream to 2 TV’s, 2 phones, my work laptop and a garage door opener. Going to add a outdoor lightbulb camera today and don’t anticipate any issue.

I’ve had far less issues with this than any other internet provider available to me. With the others the issue was always with MY router and not their service. That is until I proved it wasn’t. I don’t miss that crap.

Go for it! It’s only like $50/month and you can cancel at anytime.

Does it also have ethernet ports?

This one at least has 2 of them.

The tech in question rolled out after I stopped working for T-Mobile, but I’ve done a bit of research, and the answer is a conditional yes, it’s a solid option, but with caveats.

So before I did anything, I’d want a friend/family member with a 5g T-Mobile device (you probably know one at least), run an Ookla speedtest at your home. Because you can have decent signal on the maps, but still not have the performance you want. As long as the speed matches your needs (light streaming it sounds like, so 5-10 Mbps), then it’s probably a good idea if the cost is lower than your current option.

In terms of suddenly having ‘good’ signal in your area I wouldn’t really worry about, as most of the carriers have relatively recently finished their 3g phase out, which opened a lot of coverage for 4g and especially 5g coverage (do remember, almost all of T-Mobile 5g is ‘midrange’ coverage, so not the blistering speeds of some of the short range options, but better penetration). But the reason I suggested the test, is you can have more than enough coverage for a good call but not the speed for your needs - streaming, even light streaming, is bandwidth intensive.

My caveats are about possible long term issues. Even with the right tech and everything else, there is congestion on the cellular networks. In some areas, especially very urban and very rural (I know, I know) there is so much usage, especially at peak hours, that it would get slow for everyone, similar to how you can have 6 lanes of traffic each way, but still be in stop-and-go traffic during rush hour.

In very rural areas, you may only have limited bandwidth and power users making the most of it. As 5g become more the norm on devices, it could lead to congestion and thus speed issues down the line in a way fiber would not. But… TBH, probably a few years from that becoming a concern.

So, again, if a local speedtest is good, I’d go with it. If 2-3 years later, it’s an issue, I think that the additional competition with these options, on top of limited but increasing alternate providers, may well drive the more traditional options down from their stupidly overpriced scenarios.

Aside, I’m with Comcast/Xfinity high speed. In the last years, with T-Mobile’s option coming out, and aggressive headhunting by CenturyLink in our area, they all of a sudden offered a fixed rate $10 per month cheaper at 4 times my prior speed. So there is hope!

Hi PL! Thanks for checking in! :wave:t4:

My needs are modest…watching YouTube, reruns of Father Brown, and posting on the SDMB.

Here’s my speedtest result from my BlackBerry Key2 (Android). Does this tell you anything?

I called T-Mobile back and got a delightful young lady who operated at normal human speeds in a normal voice. I think I’m gonna go with it. When I had AT&T phone and internet, my monthly cost was about $150. With both from T-M, it will be $100.

What do I do with the AT&T router? What about the wire that comes to the house? That wire is a big nuisance, because tree branches fall on it. So far none has knocked it down… but maybe a high wind will solve my problem…

This is the speedtest from my computer. TBH I don’t know how to interpret this.

No problemo @ThelmaLou

Okay, first, what the speeds mean, although you probably already know but want confirmation

Download is how fast you can get content from the web, and upload is how fast you can put it up. Everyone normally cares about Down speeds, up speeds are normally business or if you use a file sharing service, which I doubt. :slight_smile:

The specifics you were wanting is probably ‘how much do I need’. The minimum I would want is 5-10 Mbps, and you have that in spades in your current setup, but more is better when it comes to video streaming. Here’s a basic ‘what does my speed allow’ link

But the short version is that for most people who don’t watch 4K UHD streaming, or don’t have a lot of users sharing the service, say 40Mbps is the sweet spot for solid all purpose use - more is nice, but don’t go out of your way for it if you don’t need it.

Okay, back to your scores, you’re way above that, so no worries there. One thing to check for me though is to run the test on the phone and make sure your wifi is OFF. We want the speed of your cellular connection, not the wifi (although most of the time, we want to be using wifi not the phone’s cellular, so make sure to turn it right back on).

Do note that while it is billed as 5G Home internet, it is actually 4G LTE and 5G which IMHO is a feature, not a bug. People love the 5G hype, but 4G LTE can be plenty fast and I’d rather have both available in the device. 5G will likely get your higher speeds though, and that’s going to be key.

Now, per the website, if you go with the TMO service, you should expect slower upload speeds (6-23 Mbps) which based on your usage should not be a problem, and 33-183 Mbps download speeds. So very possibly it will be slower than what you have now, but as I stated earlier, I bet you’ll be happy even at the low end.

So, run the test with wifi off and we’ll have a good what if for the speeds you can get on your current LTE device in your area, and as long as it’s in range, I think you’re good to go. Especially if you’re saving $50 per month with the switch!

Yeah, I knew that. I just wasn’t sure what numbers I should want. Thanks for the detailed explanation. Did I mention that you are The Bomb?

Here’s my phone speedtest with WiFi OFF:

I think you’ll find that upload speed to be pretty challenging. To be sure. The bulk of what you need is a solid download speed, but even if you’re only consuming media, your devices still have to communicate back and you might find that adding a few devices to your network and doing things with a couple at a time could make that a bottleneck.

That said, the TMO device probably has a better antenna than your phone, so maybe speeds will improve? Can they loan you a tester device?

You can try it for two weeks or something and then return it, no questions asked. I live alone, and I don’t allow my cats to have smartphones or tablets (no matter how much they beg me!).

Heh, I told my wife I was ‘the bomb’ and she rolled her eyes at me. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I am pretty sure that the Gateway device will have better performance, especially as it’s a TMO dedicated device and ThelmaLou’s is a BYOD (which was a big part of the prior thread[s]). Since the documentation says 6-23 Mbps expected, I think you’ll be fine as long as it hits that minimum.

If it was 1.8 even on the new device, I still think MOST of the time you’d be okay, but you might have some occasional delays, and if you were using a lot of smart devices (Echos, Nest, etc) then it would be troublesome, since almost all of the voice control is handled remotely.

As I understand it though, the TMO Gateway is a 15 day free trial, so at the $50 per month savings, and just using the ‘on-phone’ for a BYOD speedtest, it would probably be fine. If you go with the free trial, I figure the download over LTE is already good enough (still want more!), and if it hits the 6 Mbps minimum expected, you’ll be fine for all your stated use.

If it gives you issues though, I’d contact TMUS service within the first few days, which gives you a chance to troubleshoot it (positioning, local interference, etc) and still have another week to evaluate it before making the go/no-go final decision.

I do have three Echoes (in my 1,200 sq ft house). What can I say? I love my gadgets. I don’t do a terrible lot of interacting with them. I use them mostly for turning off and on lights and things like that. Yeah, I have a boatload of smart plugs too … :sunglasses:

Thanks for your help. I’ll report. :bomb:

We got T-Mobile Internet using the “gateway device” after bad experiences with alternate providers supposedly serving our rural location.

Our needs are pretty basic - net surfing, light streaming, only two users. I checked beforehand and the T-Mobile signal strength out here was and is decent. They upgraded the gateway to 5G back around the start of the year and there was noticeable improvement.

Thanks for that. :+1:t4:

Never a problem, and I’m happy to help, @ me and I’ll be there, eventually. :slight_smile:

ETA: Looking at the Gateway app, it says both 5g and 2.4 g are available. How do I access 2.4g. I’m about to miss edit window…

Ok. I got the T-Mobile Gateway device this afternoon. I set it up, and both my TVs are connected, my porch camera, and the air purifier in my bedroom. BUT none of my Kasa smart plugs will connect. I’ve tried multiple times with a few of them. (I have 17 in the house and multiple Alexa routines operating them.)

A little googling found what I’ve inserted below. I’m posting a screenshot of the preview because the links lead to an error page. Here’s the first one so you can try for yourself. From the snippet, it looks like others are having this issue.

It seems that the basic smart plugs work with 2.4g and won’t work with 5g. Is that true? Further googling did not substantially clarify the issue. It’s too late in the day, and I’m too exhausted at the moment to try to call T-Mobile customer support. But if this is the case, I’m going to have to go back to my AT&T router. Or else I’ll need to get all new 5g smart plugs?


This guy has some thoughts which, frankly, I’m too tired to comprehend at the moment. He does recommend some 5g smart plugs.

Sigh. I just got one of the plugs connected-- 16 more to go. All’s well that ends well.

I was wanting to get one in the hopes I could just buy a couple of months worth and use it as a backup for when my cable goes down.

But they don’t do that apparently.

Sounds like you figured it out @ThelmaLou, but it is a semi-common issue I’ve seen especially with older IoT (Internet of Things) - some were only designed to work with 2.4GH wifi connections, as opposed to most modern devices which are 5 only or 5/2.4. My M/FiL have that issue with their sleep number bed, so to configure it, I have to force their phones to connect to the same 2.4 network on the router, along with the bed.

It is grump-making, agreed.

Not so much for this service, but you have other options. One, depending on your plan and carrier, you can enable a mobile hotspot on your phone and use it for your emergency data needs. The amount and speed are HIGHLY variable depending on plan or carrier, but it can be a great fix when main internet goes out or travelling.

Alternately, you can buy stand alone limited data mobile hotspots, such as this -

($200, but there is a 4G LTE option for half that)

And then buy a stand alone data line for it, cancelling when you don’t need it. But you’ll have a lot of out-of-pocket cost for such a thing, and it’s not particularly cheap, but probably bearable -

2GB of 5G data for $10

5GB of 5G data for $20

10GB of 5G data for $30

30GB of 5G data for $40

50GB of 5G data for $50

So, it’s doable… but I’d have to have semi-serious local outages on a regular basis (or be able to write it off as a home business expense) before I’d bother.

Again, other carriers should have similar options, but as a former TMUS employee, I know the details on their options better. I did specify pre-paid, so you can have it as stand alone rather than part of a multi-line package in case you weren’t already a customer, at which point you’d get various perks for add-a-line and the like.

@ParallelLines Thank you, my friend. :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m going around to all the smart plugs. Some are down with the dust bunnies and teeny spiders. Having to stop periodically to charge my phone.