T-Mobile wants to boost your indoor cell signal

Its new CellSpot device, part of the carrier's larger push to improve network coverage, acts as a mini cell phone tower in your home or office.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

T-Mobile wants to make sure its customers can get a wireless signal anywhere, especially in two key locations: home and office.

The Bellevue, Washington, company said on Monday that it will soon offer the T-Mobile 4G LTE CellSpot, a low-power wireless radio that provides 3G and 4G cell coverage indoors. The radio, also known as a femtocell, acts like a mini cell phone tower in your home, connecting a wireless call directly to your home broadband connection. The company claims it provides an average of 3,000 square feet of strong 4G LTE coverage.

T-Mobile is offering the mini cell tower to its Simple Choice customers at no additional cost with a refundable $25 deposit for as long as they're T-Mobile customers.

The new device helps address a problem that has dogged T-Mobile customers for years. The nation's third-largest wireless operator has struggled with its network coverage, particularly outside major cities and inside buildings. And that's kept it from becoming a true alternative to rivals AT&T and Verizon.

Thanks to new lower-band wireless spectrum that can travel longer distances and penetrate obstacles like walls, the company has been able to extend its 4G LTE coverage to more than 300 million customers around the country. That's helped extend its high-speed wireless footprint outside of dense urban areas into suburbs and rural regions. It's also helped the company get better indoor coverage. The femtocell device takes indoor coverage one step further.

T-Mobile is not the first wireless carrier to offer femtocell technology to consumers. Other wireless operators have offered similar cellular routers, but companies like AT&T and Sprint have asked customers to pay for them. AT&T initially charged $150 for its equipment.

The CellSpot is the latest push in T-Mobile's Uncarrier campaign, which offers perks and other features to customers. It's a step up from Uncarrier 7, which was a Wi-Fi-based box that sat in your home to allow T-Mobile subscribers to make phone calls using Wi-Fi. The CellSpot employs cellular signals, not Wi-Fi. It creates an additional cellular signal in the home to provide full bars of coverage to any T-Mobile device.

"We'll do absolutely everything we can and use every proven technology available to give you the best coverage possible," T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a blog post.

T-Mobile plans to hold its next Uncarrier event on November 10 in Los Angeles.