After we published a story about me T-Mobile home internet is dying Since customer service is unable to fix the problem, I’ve received a lot of messages from readers who have had similar experiences. A former T-Mobile support engineer who was handling home internet support calls also reached out, claiming that the company uses canned excuses like “we’re upgrading the tower” in order to get customers off the phone and their stats.
Our source, who requested anonymity in print but provided documentation that he actually worked for T-Mobile, said he had been with the company for several years before leaving last spring. In his most recent position, he worked in engineering, which he said was the latest level of escalation for home internet service problems. There, he claims, he was often unable to solve customer problems, but was encouraged to use the “it’s the tower” explanation so he could keep calls in less than ten minutes. He said service reps are penalized if calls last longer than 600 seconds or if customers call again about the same problem within a week.
In my case, after spending several minutes on the phone with support doing everything from power cycling to SIM removal and replacement, I was put off while my representative said he would “do a few things” to fix the problem and then told me my local cell tower was under development and that I shouldn’t expect Get 48 hour service, at which point I canceled my service. Even though I was on the phone for about 20 minutes, I could feel the company was trying to give me an excuse, because they couldn’t actually help me.
Regarding the specific error code you were getting [All PDN IP Connection Failure], and no response from T-Mobile regarding the details of this bug, the answer is quite simply; My source told me they don’t know. I can tell you all day long stories about calls from customers who have issues with their home internet that are never resolved, because nobody in any of these departments, no matter how high up the chain we went, we had any An idea of how to solve the problem.
According to our source, T-Mobile customer service reps are hoping that a 5G gateway hard reset will do the trick if a customer comes in contact with an issue. The company often sends out replacement devices to satisfy customers if that doesn’t work. But as we’ve heard from customers on the T-Mobile forums and Reddit, even this isn’t a surefire way to fix connection issues.
“If that doesn’t fix the problem, they have no idea where to go from there, and your luck is usually out of order at this point,” our source explained. “The ‘tower in development’ response is a ready response given when they have no other answer to what is happening.”
The former employee said that if the tower near me was actually upgraded, my representative would tell me right away. This is because customer support representatives have multiple screens in front of them and can pull up a real-time map of the service area associated with your address. So if there is a tower outage or upgrade, the support rep will provide this information to the customer within the first minute or two of the call.
Our source said that when he was at T-Mobile, customer service reps had a heavier performance metric on them called First Call Resolution (FSR). If a customer calls with an issue, and then calls back in a week to report the same issue, the rep with whom the customer initially interacted will get a decision on their performance history.
Therefore, it was in the best interest of employees to tell customers to wait a week or more for their issues to be resolved so they don’t get a negative sign from T-Mobile, he said. When I called, the customer service rep told me to wait 48 hours for the Tower Upgrade to complete, so this performance metric may have changed since our source left last spring.
Our source also told me that call resolution time (CRT) is another metric by which customer service reps are measured. If they can’t get the customer off the phone within 600 seconds (10 minutes), they’ll also get a ding on their track record. This encourages reps to either get the customer off the phone as quickly as possible (sometimes by giving false excuses about the service) or bring the issue down the chain to other departments. The last line of defense appears to be the engineering department, where it worked before leaving the company.
We reached out to T-Mobile to comment on our source’s accusation that company support reps are under pressure to keep customers off the phone (and thus incentivized to mislead them). However, the statement we got didn’t really address the issue:
We often make improvements to our 5G network to support services like home internet. On some occasions, this can cause short outages in our service. Although extended issues are uncommon and typically last less than 12 hours, we encourage home internet customers to contact our award-winning customer service team for support in these cases.
Our source attributed the problems faced by T-Mobile Home Internet customers to a lack of insight regarding the requirements and difficulty of relying on cellular data for a home Internet service.
“The company did not take the time to become subject matter experts in the industry, and did not properly analyze in detail the potential problems they might encounter, before first launching it into the home internet world,” he said. They wanted to be part of the game, to have that extra benefit that they were giving customers, and they wanted to be able to say they were the first to introduce “5G home internet nationwide”.
Other readers, including Chris, who wrote about the All PDN IP Connection Failure error message I received, reached out to me, arguing that the company may not have enough capacity on newer towers that support home ISP.
“I was told it has a lot to do with towers still out in the wild that can’t handle connections for various reasons. There are still Sprint towers that need to be fully integrated, and older towers that don’t support enough connections to be reliable. All of this upgrade happens with notice. Simple or no notice because they don’t think it is necessary when there are towers nearby you should be a good backup.This is not true for home internet users!
It is worth considering that the router communicates with different parameters than the mobile phone. The mobile phone crawls into the network and smoothly changes from a “cell” to a “cell” covered by any tower. The internet asks for a connection in a slightly different way, you don’t expect to be on the go but actually expect to use more bandwidth.
When there are several towers nearby and not all of them are fully compatible with your home internet, you probably won’t go far enough to allocate an IP address. If for some reason the connection to an older Sprint tower, or a tower that is within user capacity, there will be problems. Your device will request access to the PDN and it will be denied. An incompatible tower may not be configured for requests made by your device. A perfectly good T-Mobile tower may be in capacity, so your device is sitting in the queue hoping to get connected. It may not try indefinitely and so it becomes necessary to turn it on.”
I asked our T-Mobile source about this possibility, and he said it might be a factor in some customers suddenly losing connection.
Another reader, Stanton, reached out to tell me about his problems. He was also briefed on tower upgrades in progress and had no problem with T-Mobile phone service in the same location:
So I got my T-Mobile home internet back through the trial days. I’ve encountered the same errors that I did. I passed through 5 to 6 of their gates. They’ve been asking for a tower upgrade for over 6 months. My area is only 5g and 5guc towers. My iPhone is also not having connectivity issues in these areas.
I have been waiting for over 6 months for them to fix this issue. Eventually I told them to pause the internet so I wouldn’t pay them for crap I’m not using. My problem is that my site can’t access fantasy spectrum and such. Our best landline deals are cables that want close to 200 per month for what T-Mobile or AT&T claiming the fastest they can offer is 18 Mbps.
Gary’s issues were actually fixed after T-Mobile sent him a new and updated 5G gateway:
I also experienced a complete failure of my Silver Cylindrical Gate. They offered me a newer version (black square gateway) and my problem disappeared. I’m surprised they didn’t show it to you. Yes, they went through a whole bunch of potential causes… a tower upgrade, a reboot, a portal move, etc.. when they offered to replace the portal with a newer version, I jumped on it. It has been working fine now for 3 months.
Interestingly enough, Carl called me to say he signed up for T-Mobile Home Internet only to get a terrible reception at their site. Company explanation: The service was not already available in his area and it should not have been sold to him.
Reading your article about your T-Mobile Gateway experience sparked my horrific experience as a first-time T-Mobile wallpaper and home internet experience. Long story short, it didn’t do well at all from the start. It was barely 2 bars. Constantly get technical support. 3 additional ‘trial’ units shipped by tech support over 90 days. The problem was, I wasn’t supposed to be sold online at home. She confirmed my address and told me that “the service is not available in my area”. I wasn’t supposed to sell the unit from the start.
Wasshid, one of the commentators on my previous article, wrote:
You could have written this… over 10 hours on the phone with customer service and their “technical team”, three different devices, a 48 hour tower outage (I live within a mile of two towers) and absolutely no compatibility coverage … I will give this discrepancy a few more days, hoping that after three weeks the system “stabilizes” and then crawls back into fios … Goodbye to all savings, hello to online work … You should be very proud …
To be fair, not everyone we’ve heard from has had issues with T-Mobile. Anshel Sag, an analyst who tracks 5G with Moor Strategies and Insight, said he is not aware of the problems with T-Mobile’s home internet and has been using it himself successfully.
He said, “In my experience with the service, it worked almost as fast and as reliable as my smartphone.”
Sage said he spoke to acquaintances at T-Mobile, who said mine seemed like an isolated incident.
It also shows the feedback you received; Obviously, I’m not the only one who has experienced serious problems with T-Mobile Home Internet. However, it is impossible to know what percentage of users actually had to cancel their service due to unresolved issues. Of course, people online are quicker to point out issues with a product or service than they are when they have had good experiences. Those who have had good experiences usually have no reason to speak up.
When T-Mobile Home Internet services work, that’s great. Downloads over 500Mbps and uploads over 70Mbps during the successful two weeks of service were staggering and far superior to what the previous service provider, Spectrum, was able to provide. However, the prospect of the unreliable service was enough to scare me, and it put me back in the open arms of the Spectrum.
However, for those who experienced extended outages, received false information from T-Mobile employees, or were sent multiple device replacements unsuccessfully in hopes of solving problems, the positive potential doesn’t matter.