T-Mobile’s home internet service provides a big boost for people in areas where they’re otherwise stuck with lackluster cable or DSL, but it could use some upgrades. In a conversation with PCMag, T-Mobile’s President of Technology Neville Ray mused about how the system could be improved in the future.
“There’s way more demand for this product than we imagined. Its performance is pretty strong, and its price point is great, and folks hate their cable companies,” Ray says.
I reviewed T-Mobile Home Internet in June, and I found its weakest point to be its Nokia home modem. My first unit failed, and I needed a replacement. Several commenters on my review agree: they say the modem is unreliable and they’ve often needed replacements.
“We’re absolutely expanding the number of vendor solutions that will be available,” Ray says, pointing out that when the service first launched, “we didn’t have a ton of choice.”
The Nokia modem also has no easy option to add an external antenna, which could really improve signal strength. (You can in fact add one, but it takes some hardware hacking.) Ray says that T-Mobile was extremely focused on ease of use at the beginning of its rollout, but it’s now trying to see how it can offer more flexible solutions.
He didn’t give any time frame for offering more options; he was just pointing out that T-Mobile is thinking about them. “We didn’t want to have to do the Verizon thing of sticking it up in the window,” he says. “We’re trying to avoid inconveniencing the consumer with truck rolls and that sort of thing. We need something…that most average consumers can deploy quickly.”
Even without extending coverage further, though, T-Mobile is pretty thrilled about the demand it’s seeing. While Verizon has taken three years to get to 150,000 wireless home subscribers, T-Mobile is aiming for 500,000 by the end of this year, the company has previously said.
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According to our review, T-Mobile’s now-$50/month home internet service offered me speeds between 150-300Mbps with no contract, installation, or equipment fees. That’s better than DSL, on par with cable, and not as good as fiber. Coverage for the best speeds is reliant on T-Mobile’s mid-band 5G network, which now covers about 185 million people.
T-Mobile has plenty of capacity on its mid-band network for more signups, and won’t need to dip into its cache of millimeter-wave spectrum soon, Ray says.
“The volume of capacity we’re generating with that mid-band deployment, and our ability to start extending the reach and availability of that 5G home router product, that’s pretty immense over the next two or three years,” he says.
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