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T-Mobile Home Internet (with follow-up)

June 30, 2021

I’m certain that everyone thought we had died. Well, we didn’t.

We’ve had RoadRunner/Spectrum home internet since 1997 or so (except for a brief interlude when we had AT&T DSL service, which was terrible). It’s been OK. Back in 1997, they charged $45 for monthly service. I built a Windows NT server with 2 NICs with a hub to share the service across two clients (home routers weren’t available then).

Time passes.

Now, we have 200 mbps download and 12 mbps upload speeds, and the bill is $60 per month. It used to be $44.95, but we went over the time limit for the promotional price. Soon, it’s going to be $75 per month, for the same deal.

So, here’s a thing. At worst, if we disconnect from Spectrum (for an undetermined period), apparently we can reconnect for the introductory price of $45 a month. We could probably do that by simply sharing our two AT&T prepaid phone plans with 8 Gb per month each, but that’s a stretch, data wise.

What we’ve decided to do is to use the Unlimited High-Speed In-Home Internet Service Plans | T-Mobile Home Internet. At $50 a month, it’s cheaper than what we are currently paying. The performance guarantees are solid (if you don’t like it, you can get all your money back within 20 days), and even if it’s marginal, it may well take us back to the lowest price point on Spectrum.

The “Gateway” arrives at the end of July (back ordered).

Looks like a win-win.

Follow-up

The “Gateway” arrived yesterday. Plugged it in, switched it on, connected by phone and ran the app to ‘configure’ it. Darn, how lame? You can barely do anything but change the admin password and the wifi network name. Sheesh.

I discovered that there is a web admin page which has a few more options, but still very under-powered by any router standards. I did what I could with it, ripped out the cable modem and router, and plugged the switch into one of the two supplied ethernet ports (this is cutting a long story short, as, because you can’t change the base IP address of the Gateway, I had to manually reassign the IP addresses of our printer, Network attached storage and Raspberry Pi based PiHole).

So, then I connected via a Windows 10 device wired to the switch, and ran SpeedTest. My jaw dropped. I wasn’t expecting much, since the signal strength was showing as ‘weak’. What I got was 500+ mbps (1/2 a Gbps), and 10 mbps up. Whoa! (Tests later showed around 200 mbps down and 40 mbps up – which is preferable to me) Nonetheless, for a cell based service, this is astonishing. And it, so far, seems consistent.

There is a big downside, though. Lots of features of the built-in router are missing. I cannot assign a DNS server, I can’t do any IP routing, I can’t reserve IP address ranges, or set static ones. All-in-all, very limited functionality. What’s worse is that attempts (not by me) to put a regular router between the Gateway and the network seem to have universally failed with double NAT issues.

So, unless the firmware/admin software for the Gateway gets updated, this is only a short term solution. I can’t even tell the Gateway to use the PiHole for DNS resolution, never mind pass through server requests.

Such promise.

Categories: Uncategorized
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