T-Mobile released the Personal CellSpot on Wednesday, enabling subscribers to compensate for a lack of mobile coverage by using the Wi-Fi network to place calls instead.
The CellSpot is a Wi-Fi router that is available to customers with a high-speed broadband connection. Customers will have to put down a $25 deposit to get their hands on it, which T-Mobile refunds if and when they return the router.
Users whose phones allow Wi-Fi calling can connect to the CellSpot and place calls over Wi-Fi rather than through the mobile network. Previously, the only viable option was using Wilson Amplifiers or other signal boosters.
The router reportedly delivers top home-networking and Wi-Fi performance in addition to relief from spotty service in the home or office.
Calls made from the new iPhone will be able to switch seamlessly between cellular and Wi-Fi networks, allowing Apple customers in particular to take full advantage of the technology.
The company hopes that Wi-Fi calling will broaden its effective service area and strengthen its hold where it already has relatively strong but sometimes spotty coverage. Doing so will help to control its customer churn rate and attract new subscribers.
The move will also help attenuate the load on T-Mobile’s networks due to calls, SMS, and MMS communications. This will improve the reliability of those networks, save money, and reduce maintenance overhead.
Improved service and expanded coverage are inherently beneficial for any mobile provider, but is particularly important for T-Mobile. Its coverage is still not comparable to that enjoyed by customers of AT&T and Verizon, something that has perhaps unfairly stained the carrier’s reputation.
The move towards Wi-Fi calling coupled with the company’s recent partnership with Apple are just two of the ways it’s trying to enliven consumers’ conceptions of its brand.
Reviews of everything from the router and service to the unveiling itself have been largely positive. While T-Mobile has aways to go before it begins to threaten AT&T and Verizon’s dominance of the market, it is definitely making strides in closing the gap.