T-Mobile made a new move to boost its network performance this afternoon, announcing a new “Personal CellSpot” WiFi router that prioritizes voice calls and promises to boost coverage for its customers. The CellSpot will be available for a $25 deposit starting on Sept. 17, and can also replace an existing home router, according to the company.
The announcement is being made on stage at the company’s “Un-carrier 7.0” event in San Francisco. (See GeekWire live blog.)
It’s part of a broader push by the company to use WiFi calling to improve coverage for phone calls — an initiative that was highlighted Tuesday when Apple announced that the new iPhone 6 will support WiFi calling, working initially with T-Mobile in the U.S.
It’s a “massive expansion of our reach and capability,” said Neville Ray, the company’s chief technology officer, during the event.
Any customer will be able to trade their device in for a WiFi-enabled smartphone, even if they’re not enrolled in the company’s JUMP trade-in program, said John Legere, the company’s chief executive.
Here’s the full news release from the company.
T-Mobile Launches Un-carrier 7.0
Un-leashes Wi-Fi Worldwide
Enables every T-Mobile customer and smartphone to call and text over any Wi-Fi connection for seamless coverage where no carrier network reaches – even at 30,000 feet
Unveils T-Mobile Personal CellSpot for personal coverage wherever customers choose
San Francisco, California – September 10, 2014 – Get ready for a whole new way to think about mobile coverage. T-Mobile (NYSE: TMUS) today rewrote the rules of wireless again with Un-carrier 7.0 “Wi-Fi Un-leashed,” breaking several major announcements that together deliver coverage where no cellular network has gone before.
With every major smartphone maker adopting it, Wi-Fi calling and texting has reached a tipping point, and T-Mobile is getting 100% behind it as only the Un-carrier can – to deliver unprecedented coverage to its customers to places where no cellular network can reach.
With Wi-Fi Un-leashed, T-Mobile announced that it’s lighting up Wi-Fi calling and texting for every Simple Choice customer on every new smartphone it sells. Now 100% of new smartphones in T-Mobile stores will be Wi-Fi calling and texting capable, and 100% of T-Mobile customers will be able to get a Wi-Fi calling and texting capable smartphone if they don’t already have one. To make it easier for customers to take advantage of these new capabilities, T-Mobile is opening an exclusive enrollment window in JUMP!, the Un-carrier’s revolutionary upgrade program, so customers can immediately upgrade to a new Wi-Fi calling ready smartphone.
“Wi-Fi Un-leashed is a game changer. This is like adding millions of towers to our network in a single day,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “The difference between us and the traditional carriers is that they’ll do everything they can to make more money off you. We’ll do everything we can to solve your problems, and today, that’s about uniting Wi-Fi with our data strong network for unprecedented coverage.”
In contrast to the carriers, who lock customers inside walled-off, proprietary networks to monetize them, T-Mobile has taken a typically disruptive Un-carrier approach with “Wi-Fi Un-leashed” by tapping every available technology to deliver coverage in places unreachable by any cellular network – and by making it incredibly simple. There’s no app to install or separate IDs to remember. Just use your phone.
In addition to enabling T-Mobile customers to use any public or private Wi-Fi connection they can access like a T-Mobile tower for calling and texting, the Un-carrier has rolled out next-generation Wi-Fi calling and texting on its network. This new technology is designed to deliver high-quality HD voice, fast call setup times, fewer dropped calls and seamless voice coverage between T-Mobile’s nationwide Voice over LTE (VoLTE) network and Wi-Fi with compatible smartphones.
With Wi-Fi Un-leashed, all T-Mobile customers can also make free Wi-Fi calls to the United States from anywhere outside the country – all using their existing T-Mobile number with no app to install and no additional IDs or numbers to manage – wherever they have Wi-Fi.
Full-Bars Personal Coverage Wherever You Choose
In a classic Un-carrier move, T-Mobile introduced another radically simple idea−give customers the power and freedom to personalize their coverage wherever they choose. The Un-carrier unveiled the T-Mobile Personal CellSpot, a new device that enables everyone to put the capabilities of a personal T-Mobile tower in their house.
With 57% of American wireless users saying they often drop calls in and around their home, the Personal CellSpot delivers a full-bars T-Mobile experience − in your basement workshop, small business or anywhere else you have broadband – using state-of-the-art Wi-Fi technology. What’s more, it can completely replace your existing Wi-Fi router or operate right alongside it. And, the T-Mobile Personal CellSpot comes with unique patent-pending technology that prioritizes voice calls for crystal clear HD voice.
Starting September 17th, every Simple Choice customer with a broadband connection and a Wi-Fi-calling ready smartphone can get a T-Mobile Personal CellSpot completely free of charge with a $25 refundable deposit. The only thing left to do is decide where you want your personal full-bars T-Mobile experience.
“For years, the big phone company utilities have told you where you can and can’t have coverage. And wherever their networks can’t reach, you’re SOL,” said Legere. “With T-Mobile Personal CellSpot, we’re putting an end to that old way of thinking. Now, you can decide wherever you want your own T-Mobile tower− giving you amazing full-bars experience where no carrier network has reached before.”