If you’re fed up with your high cable bill, your slow DSL speeds or any other of the lackluster internet options in your area, maybe you’ve considered skipping the wires and getting your home online with a fixed wireless cellular connection. Connections like that are nothing new, but this year, Verizon and T-Mobile are each promising better availability and faster 5G speeds, and they’re each stepping up their efforts to win customers over with high-profile ad blitzes and tempting promotions for switching over.
Now, in the case of T-Mobile, you can try the company’s home internet service out for free for up to 15 days.
There are plenty of reasons why you would want to do that. Like with Verizon, home internet service from T-Mobile costs a flat $50 per month with no data caps and no additional equipment fees, so the value is pretty compelling from the get-go. If you already have a Magenta Max phone plan with T-Mobile, you can score a $20 home internet discount, bringing your monthly broadband bill down to just $30. The company also promises to price-lock your broadband bill, which means that it won’t raise your internet rates for as long as you stay a customer.
T-Mobile’s top speeds aren’t as fast as Verizon’s, but the company now says that downloads range from 33-182Mbps, which is slightly up from the top speed of 115Mbps the company listed earlier this year, so things seem to be moving in the right direction. All of that makes T-Mobile’s home internet plan a decent alternative at addresses where faster fiber connections aren’t an option.
The downside to cellular internet is that your speeds will depend upon the strength of the signal at your address. Some customers might also experience slowdowns during periods of interference or peak congestion. That’s why a 15-day free trial makes a lot of sense — you won’t need to cancel service with whatever provider you’re currently getting your internet connection from until you’ve got a good sense of how T-Mobile actually compares at your specific address. And, if you decide T-Mobile is better for your broadband needs, the carrier is also offering to cover up to $500 of any expenses stemming from early cancellation fees and the like from your old provider.
If you’re ready to take T-Mobile up on all of that, here’s how you can get started.
Step 1: Check availability
T-Mobile says that its home internet service is now available to more than 40 million homes, but that doesn’t mean it’s available everywhere. Before signing up, you’ll need to confirm that your home falls within T-Mobile’s cellular coverage map.
To do so, just head to this link to plug your address and phone number into T-Mobile’s website. If service is available at your address, you’ll be asked to provide your name, your email and your preferred contact number. Once you submit those, a T-Mobile representative should reach out to you to walk you through the sign-up process. You’ll need to create an account and provide your billing information, but if you decide not to continue service before your 15-day trial is up, you’ll get your initial payment back.
Step 2: Start your service
With no special wiring necessary, setting up a cellular internet plan is pretty simple. In T-Mobile’s case, the company will send you a gateway device that acts as both the cellular modem and your home’s Wi-Fi router — you find a good spot for it on a shelf or in a windowsill, you plug it in and follow T-Mobile’s instructions on how to set your network up, and that’s it.
The finicky part is that you’ll probably want to try moving the gateway to a couple of different spots to see which one gets the best signal. You’ll find some helpful placement tips on the T-Mobile support website, along with step-by-step instructions for getting everything up and running. It’s probably also worth running a few quick speed tests to make sure that you’re getting the best speeds possible.
Step 3: Try it out
Once everything is up and running, you’ll have 15 days from when you started service to try the connection out and make sure it’s a good fit for your home. So, spend two weeks using the internet as you normally would. Stream some video, browse your favorite sites, do whatever you usually do — and watch to see if things stay more or less consistent from one day to the next.
Minor fluctuations in speeds are to be expected with home internet — especially a fixed wireless cellular connection. Still, if speeds ever screech to a halt, or if the connection feels noticeably laggy during peak evening hours, you’ll want to take that into consideration and ask yourself if you’d be willing to put up with it on a regular basis.
Step 4: Use it or lose it
Hopefully, by the end of two weeks, you’ll have a good sense of whether or not T-Mobile Home Internet is a good option at your address. If the signal seems strong and the service seems capable of meeting your need for speed, it’s probably worth giving it a shot. $50 per month is more than reasonable for home internet that gets the job done, and T-Mobile’s terms are about as appealing as broadband gets. Again, there are no data caps, no price increases and no equipment fees, and you won’t be locked into a contract, either, so you really don’t have much to lose. And, if your current provider charges an early termination fee, T-Mobile will reimburse you for that up to $500.
If you have T-Mobile’s Magenta Max mobile plan, signing up for home internet service where available is close to a no-brainer for that discounted rate of $30 per month. Phone-and-internet bundlers also get half off a year’s subscription to YouTube TV, which is another nice value ($390 worth, in fact).
On the other hand, if the signal seems weak or unreliable at your address, you’ll probably be better off with something else. You can check for alternatives here on CNET, but first, you’ll want to be sure to let T-Mobile know that you’d like to stop service by calling the company’s sales support at 844-839-5057. You’ll get your initial payment back as a one-time bill credit if you’re within that 15-day trial window — from there, all you’ll need to do is return the gateway in a timely fashion.