Switching to T-Mobile Home Internet not an option in most of Northampton

A few posts back we noted that T-Mobile Home Internet might be an option for “high speed” internet for some in Northampton. It does not appear to be widely available, however. We tried entering a number of street addresses in Northampton but mostly no result was found since it must match a street name where the service exists. But it is an option on Bear Hill in Florence. One of us who lives in this neighborhood made the switch from Comcast. The promise is you pay $50/month forever, but you must sign up for autopay. The payment must be made with an ATM card to get the full discount. With discounts, that’s $32 less a month than the Comcast plan we have, which is enough money to make it was worth the hassle of switching. You need to give T-Mobile a bunch of information and then wait a few days to get a gateway. You are urged to put it near a window on an upper floor. If you file for it, you can get a credit card with $50 value on it, but it takes a month or two to receive it.

Unpacked, the gateway looks like this:

Your connection is wireless, so you won’t need the coaxial cable provided by Comcast. If you want though you can still pay for cable TV channels through Comcast, but there’s no point in paying for Internet through Comcast. You are encouraged to move the unit around. The app you install will show the relative signal strength. In our attempts at moving it, we couldn’t get past “good”. The app lets you create a mobile network and set a password for the network. Any devices connected to the old network need to be told to use the new network. This can be a pain, particularly if you need to connect a remote printer.

But what about upload and download speeds? Before disconnecting from Comcast we did one last internet speed test: 91.3 mbps download, 11.98 mbps upload. That’s pretty pathetic because the plan is for up to 200 mbps. As is typical with Comcast, we rarely got close to the bandwidth we were paying for. A T-Mobile speed test was better: 493.30 mbps download, 14.85 mbps upload.

There seems to be a bit longer lag connecting to a site with T-Mobile compared with Comcast.

There were some problems getting the system to work reliably. With reboots of the gateway I had to manually connect to the new network again from my devices. Sometimes I could not get onto YouTube for a while. It was a bit annoying, but part of the learning process.

Saving $32 more/month though means saving an additional $384/year. That’s real money.

If you are using T-Mobile Home Internet, please leave a comment on your experience with it and what street are you on.

Comments 4

  • Have there been any articles in the Gazette discussing fiber-based internet in Westfield, expected fiber in Easthampton, and the apparently stalled effort here in Northampton? I emailed the mayor’s office and haven’t received any response as to any progress here. It seems like Easthampton’’s progress makes it more attractive in some ways than Northampton. What is the city doing?

  • I haven’t seen any articles about this in the Gazette. See this comment. It is likely this meeting will be plenty newsworthy and the Gazette will cover it, particularly if citizens raise a ruckus with the mayor.

  • I had the T-Mobile Home Internet (TMHI) device for several months earlier this year and at some times it seemed faster than Comcast, but during peak hours it was often slower. I spent a lot of time moving it to various locations in my home to try and improve the service. Over time it got slower and slower with ping times jumping into the 100ms+ range. Video and audio calls would frequently freeze up or get pixelated. The TMHI service gets a lower priority than T-Mobile’s postpaid cellular customers and I think the tower near me just got too many internet customers fighting over a shrinking slice of bandwidth.

    In the end, I ended up cancelling it and went back to Comcast. Since I had cancelled it before I was able to go back as a “new customer” and get the $25/mo for 2 years promotion they offered at the time.

    I see that Westfield is expanding their Whip City Fiber into other communities, Amherst and Easthampton are partnering up with a new provider, but Northampton seems to be dragging their feet on this. There is a meeting 9/20 I see where they finally will present the broadband report. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pitch it as “too expensive”, but it isn’t going to get cheaper and something like 90% of Northampton residents thought that working towards this was a good idea so I hope they explored a lot of options to present.

    • This is an important meeting for asking the town questions on the current status and requesting a commitment to more frequent and/or regular updates on progress. If Northampton wants to be an attractive location for new residents, a fiber optic competitor to Comcast would be a plus. The activity in Greenfield, Westfield and Easthampton put us to shame.

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