T-Mobile has done a fair amount to get LTE into every nook and cranny of its coverage map, but that doesn’t matter much if there’s still a cellular dead zone in your home or office. You might not have that issue from now on, though. The Magenta network is launching a 4G LTE CellSpot that promises full-fledged LTE calling and data — you’re not making do with 3G here. You only need an LTE-capable phone and a broadband internet connection to fill in those gaps.
The kicker may be the price. Instead of paying a bunch to get the coverage you should’ve had all along, the CellSpot won’t cost you more than a $25 deposit and (if you’re forgetful) a non-return fee when it arrives on November 4th. At that rate, you might as well get one if your T-Mobile access is even mildly spotty.
Wireless carriers have been experimenting with small cell technology to boost a network’s performance in crowded neighborhoods or smaller places, like coffee shops or doctors’ offices.
T-Mobile said it would allow subscribers to bring this technology into their homes, with the 4G LTE CellSpot — essentially a mini-tower that will deliver a 4G LTE wireless signal inside a residence or small business.
“It helps T-mobile in areas where coverage might not be optimal — say, [if] you are an organization that would like to consider T-Mobile as your provider but coverage in the office is poor,” said Kantar Worldpanel research chief Carolina Milanesi. “It’s no coincidence that the release mentioned, specifically, small businesses. Second, it gives customers another reason not to leave.”
Other carriers offer signal boosters that amplify an existing network strength in the home. AT&T markets a MicroCell Wireless Network Extender. Verizon offers something called a Network Extender to enhance indoor calling and data.
The nation’s third-largest carrier also offers signal boosters and Wi-Fi calling. But 4G LTE CellSpot is something different, the carrier explains. This is an actual tiny cell tower — 8.5 inches wide by 8.5 inches tall and 1.3 inches thick — that plugs into the wall and into the home’s broadband connection to deliver a 4G LTE signal.
Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy said consumers who place a call using the 4G LTE CellSpot will be able to walk out of their homes and continue their conversions on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE wireless network without missing a beat.
The 4G LTE CellSpot is offered free to T-Mobile’s Simple Choice customers for as long as they remain monthly subscribers. T-Mobile also envisions it being used by small businesses, where it can support up to 16 calls at a time.
T-Mobile has been on a roll: Last week, the company reported it gained 2.3 million customers in the third quarter and turned a profit. The nation’s third-largest carrier used aggressive promotions and lease plans to boost the number of new monthly phone subscribers to 843,000 last quarter. That’s almost twice as many as Verizon’s 430,000.
Apple’s new financing plan has served as a boon to cheaper carriers, Bloomberg reports. Customers who finance their iPhone purchases through Apple instead of through a carrier are free to shop around for the least expensive service. That has provided a lift to T-Mobile. Sprint, the struggling fourth-place carrier, has offered aggressive promotions in its turnaround efforts. The company reports its quarterly results Tuesday.