Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review: T-mobile Cell Spot

I've discovered that my favorite way of making and receiving phone calls is with the SBH-52. This lets me be completely hands-free, enabling me to look up the computer, write a blog post, or investigate something while being on the phone. (Yes, I still make phone calls, sometimes, it's the only way to interact with the healthcare system)

Unfortunately, part of my house is a T-mobile dead-zone. While I do have a land-line, there does not exist any device that can turn my landline into a blue-tooth compatible service (yes, I've looked, the closest is a VTech system that includes a wireless headset that you can use, but still doesn't let me connect my own bluetooth headset to it)

So when T-mobile announced that you could get a cell-spot for free, I jumped on it. The cell spot is basically a small scale T-mobile cell tower. It connects to your internet broadband via a wired ethernet connection (it also provides a pass through in case you're not one of those people with a huge switch in their equipment closets), and then uses that to provide a virtual cell tower inside your house. Using this virtual cell tower still uses your minutes, data, etc., but you effectively get 4 bars of connectivity, which is a huge step up from 0. Of course, if you lose your internet connectivity, you also lose those 4 bars, so this isn't a solution for replacing your landline, but was exactly what I needed.

Acquiring the device is relatively painless. You do have to visit a store and give them an address where the device will be installed. That's because for E911 purposes, they still need to give emergency services a location for this virtual cell tower.

The device comes with a power supply, a device, and a GPS antenna and wire. The idea is that if you move the device to a new address/location, you can install the GPS wire and that'll provide T-mobile with the new location for E911 purposes. I have no intention of moving the device, so I didn't bother connecting the GPS wire. Note that if you do move the device to a new address, you'll get pings and all sorts of reminders about E911, and in the worst case, if you don't respond (all you have to do is to reply to the text message), the device will be disabled after a week.

Once installed the device takes about 2-3 hours to get ready. I don't know what it's doing during this period, but it certainly did show a lot of blinking lights. Once done, I had 4 bars of connectivity. My phone calls now never get dropped, and I can use my cell phone at home to my hearts' content.

If you're a T-mobile customer, and have spotty coverage at your house, there's no reason not to get this device. You pay T-mobile a $25 deposit, and in exchange you get 4 bars whenever you're at home. Highly recommended!

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