T-Mobile @ Home is Solidly No Good

I recently took a dive in to trying to the new T-Mobile @ Home (link has autoplaying sound) service because well, I really want to get rid of my AT&T landline. I’ve never liked AT&T and they fact that the lost a payment and then required me to give them a deposit to reinstate my line after 10 years of paying my bill on time made me look for alternatives.
T-Mobile @ Home is $10 a month to call anywhere in the US. Similar setups from Vonage and Speakeasy are about $30 a month. Then of course there’s Skype which is $3 a month with unlimited calls to anywhere in the US and Canada, which is a great deal, but unfortunately, it requires your computer or a wifi phone, while the others use a landline. So, @ Home seemed like a great deal. Of course, with any deal that seems to be really good, there are usually downsides and as I found out, T-Mobile @ Home is bad on so many levels, that I had to ultimately cancel the service and give up.
First of all, there are some basic issues which are bad. A fellow named Mark has covered a huge slew of questions in an @ Home FAQ. There is a basic problem I have which is the fact that I have to have a $40 a month plan with T-Mobile to get @ Home. I currently have the $30 a month plan, so this jacks up my cost to $20 a month additional for @ Home including this additional plan charge plus the @ Home charge. This makes the savings quite negligible for me as my AT&T plan (while without long distance) is a mere $18 a month.
The large issue is that @ Home is not for normal people. By this, I mean that hooking up the software is relatively simple. The catch comes in the type of internet connection you need to have to use @ Home, which is firstly broadband, secondly cable, or thirdly a phone-free DSL connection. I have the third item. Most people will not. They’ll have AT&T DSL which requires an AT&T landline. Trying to change all this up is really beyond the Average Complexity Threshold, which I like to call, My Mom. Even if mom could get broadband out in the country, there is no way she’d be able to set all this up without many phone calls to me. There is also the issue that if you want to port over your current number, it’s a process of a multiple of steps. Again, this is beyond Mom.
It is also the case that @ Home is not for geeks. The staff at T-Mobile, while attempting to be helpful, are extremely clueless in this whole thing, showing that T-Mobile really didn’t train them well before launching the product. It is simply impossible to find any gooey tech details about the service either. Say you want to make sure you port your firewall correctly. Can anyone tell you what ports are needed? Nope. This fellow seems to have found out though, although I had no success with this information, so it may be pointless. Oh, and while the router itself is a decent Linksys box, attempting to set it up without using the included CD will present you with a smack down on your sensibilities.
But as to my personal experience with the service, I have to say that it was utter crap. I spent two days trying to get it to work. Tech support was worthless. The wait times are anywhere from an astounding 1 1/2 hours to a mind blowing 3 hours. I opted to have the call back option instead of just waiting on hold. When they do finally call back, they give the pointless, “Okay, I need you to power cycle your modem. Okay, now power cycle the router.” This does nothing to fix real problems and to make matters worse, the tech support person said that she’d call me back once it reboots. Naturally, she never called back. I might have just as well had a monkey on the other end saying, “Eeee eee ooo ooo. Aaaa Aaaa.” It could have actually been more helpful.
I took back the first router and got a second only to experience the same problems. I called up my DSL provider, Speakeasy to see if they were blocking any ports to which they said they weren’t and I actually believe them as they’re generally knowledgeable and fair with their service. I put the @ Home router behind the firewall. I put it in front of the firewall. I put it behind with every port in the world open to it. I used another one of my static IP addresses to point it as far exposed as possible. Nothing worked.
Thankfully, there is a 14 day money back policy with this damned thing. I made full use of that and of course they tried to keep talking me in to sticking with it. I said that I would as long as they gave me a Purchase Order number so that I could bill T-Mobile for the time lost working on their system. Surprisingly, they didn’t take me up on it and I’m sitting here stuck with AT&T again.
T-Mobile @ Home is Solidly No Good

9 Replies to “T-Mobile @ Home is Solidly No Good”

  1. is AT&T still cheaper than speakeasy VOIP? Taylor’s parent’s have that, I bet he could fill you in on their experiences.

    I’ve not had a land line since I left home, and I’ve never wanted one. Do you need it for business, or do you just not get cell reception at your place, or something else?

    1. Yeah, ATT is cheaper than VOIP in its most basic form. When you factor in international long distance, VOIP is by far cheaper. I was considering the Speakeasy solution as Spain is free with it, but I need a little time away from telecommunications technology.

      I actually hate the cellphone, which is why I keep a landline. I find it to be the most useless technology ever created in Western societies. I only have one because people freak out if you don’t, which is why I’m on the $30 a month plan (the cheapest) and I’m even considering switching over to a Prepaid plan because that can be as little as $100 a year.

    2. The biggest problem with @home calling is the hidden app on the T-Mobile branded router which keeps the VoIP link open while allowing your phone to put its RF circuitry into low-power mode until the next DTIM interval. Thus, if you do not purchase the $100 router from them, and even if you have proper WMM settings and QoS in place, your batteries will be completely toast after 2 months. I am currently battling T-Mobile.

    3. Be afraid, be very afraid. I signed up for this service in July, 2008. It appeared to work alright w/ some outages until January, 2009 when it was down for minutes, hours, days. When the problem occurs it requires you to reset your router each and every time. It was so bad I had to set up a surge protector under my desk, so I could simply use my foot to turn the router on and off, on and off, on and off…. When I called to complain, t-mobile told me they were not aware of this problem, well to be frank they are liars. There are postings all over the place, including their own forum on how unreliable this service really is.
      They sent me a new router, knowing full well this wouldn’t solve the problem – the problem was I believed them. Why wouldn’t I, I had VOIP for years from other providers with no real problems. Well – same problems. You are on the phone and all of sudden the person on the other end cannot hear you – reset the router. You call them back or they call you and it drops again – reset the router. You do it a few more times – same thing. Like I said it may be minutes but more likely hours and in the end days at a time. It also takes your internet service with it. Linksys forum also has many postings, look up “no blue light”.
      So I call again – told my case was closed – really, no one called to see if it was working. Told you have to start at the lower level customer service all over again. Email CEO, get call from executive response team. Now they are angry, combative, abusive and threatening – yes, threatening to “investigate” my phone calls or how I use my phone – I told them – have at it. Their executive response person Beckett spoke over me continually – actually yelling at me. I told her I did not want any more contact with her – find someone else. Oh – did I mention she thought it was funny I had this kind of phone service. Even though the phone continually disconnected while I was speaking with her – she tried to claim it wasn’t their problem and they still expected me to pay the bill. Anyway, Beckett had the audacity to keep calling me and I told her emphatically not to call. She said she would continue to call – oh, really – had to inform her this was harassment in writing. Then someone else called but the call kept dropping and they didn’t call back.
      Senior tech Kevin calls and told me he had the same issue, but it wasn’t as bad these days – not as bad – are you kidding me! He was supposed to come to me and bring a new router – well he never showed up. Then a letter from t-mobile they are terminating my service and keeping my activation fees, the money for phones and equipment, but we still want you to pay the balance on your bill or we won’t release your number. Keep in mind I paid all along, believing they were honestly attempting to fix the problem – because they said so – like I said – LIARS. In April when the service became unbearable, leaving me without my internet service – I told them I would pay when they fixed the problem – therefore I was disputing my bill. American consumers have to stop being doormats – we have let this happen. Not me – not anymore. I reported them to the FCC, BBB, AG and small claims. An important fact is that you cannot call 911 should you need to when you have no service or it disconnects every minute. Well at least that would get the cops here, since they would figure we were making prank calls to 911. Totally disgraceful company.

    4. Your issue could have been conflicting applications, I have fixed my issues and wrote a blog about it.

    5. I’m a tech guy, I have setup a hundred (non @Home) wireless routers for a hundred different customers with no problems, so I was not intimidated in any way by the @Home router when it arrived by mail. I must say I can’t agree with anything that is being said here. First off: the T-mobile @Home router works out of the box with zero configuration necessary for everything to work (just like all other linksys routers), if you want to enable wireless security log into the web interface which is the same as any other linksys router and enable it; config complete. It works great and I have no problems even-though it’s not supposed to work on my network because I use WDS (wireless distributed access) to get internet from my neighbors house through two high-powered wireless routers one on each end. Because of WDS my bandwidth is nowhere near what it is at the source end of the 200 foot span, but the @Home works great with the exception of the occasional usage of file sharing programs by my idiot brother-in-law that sucks up what little bandwidth I do get, I have not had one single complaint. I’m completely boggled by the idea that someone else is complaining that plugging this stuff in and turning it on is too complicated.

    6. Uh, yeah, if it was just a matter of plugging it in and having it work, that would be great, but it didn’t and it wasted a whole weekend to find out how bad it was. No idea if they’ve fixed the problems now, but I’m an experienced sysadmin who couldn’t get it to work.

Comments are closed.