Cel-Fi T-Mobile signal boosters now available to buy from Nextivity (again)

tmobile_cel-fi_booster

Thanks to some great spotting from Peter Cohen at iMore, we now know the new, improved Cel-Fi signal boosters (model RS224) from Nextivity are now available to Pre-Order, with shipping forecasted for the end of this month.

Cel-Fi for those unaware is a signal booster to use in your home. These models have been designed to boost low signal up to 4-5 bars of 3G/4G coverage in the home. Unlike AT&T’s MicroCell which uses your home broadband to offer your cellular signal, the Cel-Fi takes a 1-bar cellular signal and boosts it.

If you go through Nextivity it’ll cost you a handsome $575. But paying for one up front should only be your last resort if you’re with T-Mobile.

If you meet T-Mobile’s criteria, you can actually get one for free, from T-Mo. From what I understand, the criteria are: You have to have low coverage (1 bar), and have a postpaid account in good standing, paying a certain amount every month ($60-ish?).

Process is as follows:

1. Call 1-800-937-8997, ask for Technical Care department for a Cel-fi booster
2. Once transferred they will go through troubleshooting steps and open a case to investigate the coverage in the area.
3. Wait until they report back to you, if they can’t improve coverage they will offer a Cel-fi booster for you and wi-fi calling.

I’m not 100% on this process or the criteria, so if any of you work in the department that deals with this, I’d not complain if you got in touch: cam@tmonews.com.

[UPDATE: Company procedure on handing out Cel-Fi in store:

When To Offer Signal Booster

  • Check to see if Wi-Fi is an option for the customer to provide a better in-home coverage solution.
  • Currently T-Mobile doesn’t have enough inventory to offer proactively. Do not proactively offer signal booster.
  • Only offer signal booster when customer complains about in-home coverage or threatens to cancel and Wi-Fi isn’t an option.

Signal Booster Benefits

  • Signal Booster delivers 300+ points in-home network performance improvement. As a result, customer coverage satisfaction and loyalty with TMO has more than doubled since the Signal Booster deployment.
  • Device installation is simple- Instruct customer to watch the installation video at TMO Support page or watch it in the store with the customer.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Postpaid account in good standing meaning it is not past due or delinquent.
  • Simple Choice No Credit does not qualify.
  • Credit class A, B, C, O, & L.
  • No future-dated rate plan change pending on the account. If there is, the system will not allow the booster to be ordered until the rate plan change has taken place or the pending rate plan change has been removed.
  • Customer must have at least 1 bar of T-Mobile 3G / 4G signal inside the building and has a T-Mobile or BYOD 3G / 4G capable device. Check for the 1 bar of service using NCI.
  • Employees are elgible for the RS1 signal booster only and may order through the proactive upgrade form.

Updated Eligibility Requirements

  • There is no contract requirement.
  • No single family home restriction; now open to apartments and condos.
  • No tenure requirement. The 12-month T-Mobile tenure requirement for credit class C/O/L customers has been lifted.
  • The BAN MRC has been lowered to $50.

How do I get a signal booster for a customer who activated service six months ago? (Hide)

Ensure the customer meets signal booster requirements. If they meet all requirements, order a signal booster using the Proactive Upgrade Form with standard shipping fees. Do not use the in-store inventory for this customer.

Can I get a signal booster for a customer who does not get at least one bar of 3G/4G signal at their home? 

In this case the customer would not qualify because they must get at least one bar of 3G/4G signal at their home in order to qualify for a signal booster. Do not offer this customer a signal booster.

A customer took advantage of the Early Termination fee credit and traded in their phones yesterday. They returned to the store and are upset because their coverage is not as good at home as it was with AT&T and due to the fact that an instant trade-in was performed, we have no way to get them their AT&T phones back. What should we do in this case to save this customer?

Provide the customer a signal booster using the in-store inventory. This is a perfect situation where the solution needs to be resolved immediately. Ensure customer signs the Signal Booster Agreement form. Attach signed and completed form to signal booster paperwork that was processed out from HSO/CIHU.

A family is unhappy about their in-home coverage. Each member has an iPhone so Wi-Fi Calling is not an option? They activated a month ago and want a resolution today. What should we do in this case to save this customer? 

Order them a signal booster using the Proactive Upgrade Form with standard shipping fees. Provide them the options of shipping and costs. This situation is not escalated enough to use the in-store inventory.

A customer wants to return their signal booster they got from the store last month. Can I accept it and send it back for them? 

No. You must have the customer contact T-Mobile Customer Careto request a signal booster return kit  be sent to their home. Retail can only accept signal booster returns when the product was sold from retail and is within buyer’s remorse.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/joshpowersshow jp

    You actually have to have at least 3 bars to get the signal booster for free from T-Mob.

    • Medion

      Nope, just one bar. That’s how I got mine. If you have three bars, you likely don’t need one.

    • http://benpike.net/ Ben Pike

      wrong – just one bar.

    • philyew

      Why would you even need one with three bars?

      I can get over 20mbps download on two bars. Heck, I can get over 5mbps with it flipping between 0 and 1 bar…

  • Medion

    I got one last year, but it was a hassle. I literally had to start the account cancelation process to get them to cave. They also lied to me several times. First I was told they don’t ever give them out anymore, then that I would get one, then told it wasn’t happening etc. I got a few $20 monthly credits out of it due to numerous calls about in home service quality before they finally caved and mailed me one.

    And we’ve had decent in gone reception ever since. They are great but they only work on AWS 3G/4G, not LTE.

    • TMOTechRep

      We had a big shortage of them last year, that is probably why you had a hard time getting one.

      • Medion

        Oh, well that TOTALLY excuses the poor support and lying.

        • TMOTechRep

          I wasn’t trying to excuse anything. Just letting you know what happened. Sorry you had a bad experience.

  • ProudPapa

    I called last night and they are sending me one free, with the stipulation I have to return it if I ever leave T-Mobile. You have to have at least one bar of 4G in a window in your house for T-Mobile to send you one. I have called a couple of times in the past about bad coverage in my house, so I think that helped expedite my case.

  • dm33

    What’s the news? Hasn’t this always been available?
    I have one, I assume this one isn’t somehow newer or better.
    It works better than regular signal boosters but can only do so much, in my case I get 0-4 bars edge at home, almost never 4g. The celfi can usually, but not always, get a signal.
    When it does get a signal, it boosts fine, but I have to be within a few feet of the coverage unit. It doesn’t provide usable signal throughout the house, but only within a few feet of one corner of the house by the coverage unit.
    I wish tmobile has a microcell instead. Then it would work in places with no coverage and would provide a signal to more of the house. Is there a tmobile microcell available?

    • steveb944

      They were making a newer version so they had stopped offering it for a bit.

      Per source article:

      “Nextivity, worked on a new version that supports additional radio frequencies T-Mobile now depends on.”

      I don’t think there’s a microcell available as this is the only fix I’ve heard of for years, other than WiFi calling.

    • seancaldwell

      mine works significantly better than you described; do you have an 8 or 9 on the one unit? It covers 4000 square feet pretty well for me. Since I have low e glass, I had to put the ‘window’ unit outside under a lanai. Now I get great coverage in the house.

      • dm33

        I had to put mine up in the attic (on Cel-Fi support recommendation) to get a consistent signal. One floor down and in the corner it reads 7-8. But if I get more than 20 feet from it, I start losing it and it may go to edge or drop the call. Likewise if I receive a call elsewhere in the house it will be on edge. Even if I walk right up to the Cel-Fi, my iPhone 5 refuses to switch to 4G. If I hang up and call back it will be on 4G and usually be fine as long as I stay close.

    • tmo_rep

      No it hasn’t. They were available for a period of time, then we ran out for awhile.

      • dm33

        I received mine 3 months ago.
        Is there any way to get a microcell from Tmobile instead? With the trees leafing out, coverage has become even worse around my house. Frequent no signal and sometimes even the Cel-Fi doesn’t pick up a signal.
        A new tower was erected 1/4 mile away in February for AT&T and Tmobile. I signed on to Tmobile thinking the tower would go live in a few days. Little has been done on it since. Not sure how long I can wait with such poor coverage at my house. I’ve called Tmobile but they don’t have any information about the tower.

        • schweddyballs

          There’s no microcell type unit at tmobile, only a coverage extender like this one, for those who get at least 1bar of 4g/3g. If you constantly have no signal and the booster does to…then bottom line, coverage is bad where you live and most likely will not improve anytime soon.

  • qpinto

    is there a new version? the one im using currently works but it doesnt like to help me receive messages

    • steveb944

      Per source article:

      “Nextivity, worked on a new version that supports additional radio frequencies T-Mobile now depends on.”

      Worth a shot to try and get the upgraded version as it may help your messaging troubles.

      • Kevev

        That’s great to hear. I have the older model and when downloading lots of data at once(ex. Youtube) my signal drops. T-Mobile says it is because the Cel-Fi device has a power output limit and saturating ut will cause lower signal. I am hoping this new model works better. I wonder if I could have them send me the new model.

  • http://benpike.net/ Ben Pike

    I can’t think of a situation where you would want to pay full cost for one of these when T-Mobile offers them for free – unless you just happen to not meet the very basic qualifications and no other carrier will work where you need it…

    It’s also my understanding you need some kind of “signal booster flag” added to your account, but I’m not 100% on that…

    • TMOTechRep

      The flag is added to the account if you get one from us, it is mainly just to keep track of accounts that have them. Wouldn’t be required if you bought your own.

  • Matt

    I am pretty sure they will not send out a signal booster if you live in a multi-unit building. You must have a single family home.
    In the past when I have requested a signal booster they have denied me because I am in a multi-unit building. T-Mobile reps stated that they could not send me one due to potential issues with contacting emergency services.

    • TMOTechRep

      This used to be the case, however, it is no longer limited to single family homes.

  • Ben

    I complained (politely) on twitter and T-Force responded asking me to email them. I did, they responded, opened a case, and sent me one no problem. Only requirement was one bar of service. Of course, they ask that if you leave T-Mobile or your situation changes to where you no longer need it that you simply return it. It was easy and I was very pleased with their response.

  • lion7718

    They sent me one a few months ago, after I answered one of their text surveys…charged me $9 to ship it. It works great with my N4.

  • Rich

    It doesn’t boost the signal it extends the range. You want to have at least two bars of signal in one corner of your home of 3G/4G coverage.

    • SeniorK

      Whats the difference? i have 0 bar in one room and 4 bars in another room….with the booster i’ll get almost 4 bars in every room now. so it boost my 0 bar signal to 4 bars….or it extended my 0 bars to 4 bars

  • Trevnerdio

    Wish I would have gotten an extender now rather than almost 2 years ago…still locked into stupid contracts because of that thing.

  • Trevnerdio

    I wonder…could I trade in my old one and get a new one?

    EDIT: Called, it’s just useful for condos and apartments and such…for standalone homes, no added benefit over the old dinosaur.

  • Thorn

    Is the Cel FI mobile, can it be used on the road while traveling???

    • seancaldwell

      no, watch the video and see how its setup. there’s a window unit and a boosting unit… they need to be many many feet apart

  • tmo_rep

    Cam, I appreciate that you want to look out for our customers, but as a tmo employee, I question why you posted about how to obtain a signal booster from us? You clearly saw that they are not proactive offers, and our inventory for them is low. I have been with the company during the time when we ran out, and had to tell our customers the signal booster wasn’t available due to lack of inventory. This can create a poor customer experience. There are some people who request them who really don’t need the booster, but for the ones who do, i’m glad we have some in stock again because most of the time it’s a great indoor solution.

    • philyew

      I think TM miss a customer care opportunity by not publishing clear information like this about ways they can make a miserable user experience less painful. Instead of being over-cautious about possible abuses, they could be direct and increase loyalty. A couple of positive experiences turned me into a 12-year customer. It would work with others, I’m sure.

      I spend the vast majority of my time with barely one bar of LTE but won’t be troubling anyone for a signal booster because I learned HERE that part of the pre-qual is that I shouldn’t have access to WiFi. I do, so that’s an end to it.

      Lots of people have a less than ideal experience, but don’t know anything about signal boosters and so get needlessly frustrated. When TM has had time to deploy some low band spectrum, this kind of problem will start to go away and the need for signal boosters will diminish. In the mean time, take an opportunity to trust your customers and give them the information so that we don’t have to learn valuable procedures here.

      • tmo_rep

        I hear what you are saying, and if I didn’t work in the frontline of the company, I would totally agree with you. That’s not the case since I’ve been on the other end and had to deal with more then enough customers who were frustrated at the fact we couldn’t offer a signal booster because we didn’t have any available. These are the same customers who called in expecting to get one. Either they heard about them online, a store rep, or another customer. Then you have those customers who get told “No” from one rep then call back again a few more times until they either give up, or get what they want. These types of customers cost the company lots of money.

        • philyew

          I sympathize with your difficulties on the front line, but in both your posts you indicate that the problem is low inventory. That’s fixable…and if there is a higher demand from people who meet the criteria than is currently met by the company’s supply chain, then surely it’s up to TM to fix the problem.

        • SeniorK

          you make no sense…Cam, David and this site has helped TMO so much…and im sure soon TMO will prob offer Cam a job as well like they did David. Dont blame him or anyone else on bad experience because he put up the facts – which is whats required for the booster. so if you or the person sitting next to you in the call center dont follow policy and verify in the NCI tool that its poor signal, that is not Cam’s fault – its the employees. and as for those reps that just give up and eventually “give it to them” shame on them – track them down and blame the “cost TMO money” on those reps.

        • concerned

          Don’t forget the 90/10 principle… You spend 90% of your time with 10% of the people. So what you view as scammers are the minority. What about all the customers who quietly leave because they think there’s no option? You don’t have the opportunity to think you’re better than they are, because they switch to the competition. At least articles like this can show them that there is an option, and give them a reason to stay with T-Mobile, and continue to pay your paycheck.

    • Cam Bunton

      Of course, there are two ways people can see this. Either a) They can make it difficult for you by being the people who just lie to get what they want, or b) Having the guidelines, they can check if they fit the criteria before wasting their own time trying to get one.

      Believe me, I appreciate where you’re coming from on this. I’ve been in retail. But, the well informed customer is normally the best kind.

      • Paul

        While you have a good point, I was curious what one needed to qualify. Obviously, I don’t require one and would not meet the criteria. Cam posting these requirements helps me to know and not waste anyone’s time.
        It can prevent some of us from calling and asking, which wastes time customer support could use to help users with real issues. However, there are those that will want to get one because they just want to. It is a catch-22 in that respect.

    • vinnyjr

      I agree, you will have every sleeze ball trying to score one whether they need it or not. They shlould be for the customer service dept to see what the customers issue is and then decide if they should have a booster. They are close to $600 bucks a piece. Very exspensive to give to everyone who claims they need one. For someone who claims to be a T-Mobile fan he is doing his best to cost them big money.

  • Willie D

    I asked for one, met criteria and then was told, sorry we don’t give them out, upgrade to a WiFi capable device instead.

  • melisaa

    For all those complaining about this because from what im reading here lots of people are complaining about it just do what I did and switch to at&t or Verizon and I can guarantee all your issues with having no signal in buildings u have on tmobile will be fixed on att n Verizon yes there more expensive but if u have a good job like me and can afford it like I can then go for it u wont regret it.

    • Omar Boyer

      Tru that I agree with you if u can afford at&t or verizon then by all means go for it.. Signal in buildings is deff WaY better on att n verizon than it is on T-Mobile.

      • dontsh00tmesanta

        Totally location Dependant

    • Chad D

      Why are you trolling a Tmobile forum? FYI I got rid of Verizon because the service sucked and they wanted me to rent a booster for 15$/month. So you are completely wrong, go troll another place.

      I have the older Tmobile booster at one of my homes, going to try to get a new one.

      • melisaa

        Everyone has a different experience I also travel a lot from LA to vegas to Arizona to san fransisco tmobile was just edge or gsm/gprs while att is 3G /LTE ALL the way there on those trips ,and in my loft in dwtwn LA were I live 2 bars edge ,1 small bar of lte/hspa on tmobile, att full bars lte in my loft. And I just came on here because I had nothing to do but this is the last time u will ever see me here so don’t even bother replying back cuz I wont since I don’t have tmobile anymore I have no reason to come on here anymore after being with them 5 years , I just got fed up with dropping to edge or no service in malls ,hospitals,underground parking lots,elevators etc.. now on att I get service in all those places and lte deep in the buildings..

        • Valerie

          I live in southern California. I’ve been to majority parts of Los Angeles and Vegas. In addition, Dallas-Texas, Boston-Massachusetts, Mobile-Alabama, New Jersey, New York, Kansas City with my Samsung Galaxy S3. I’ve always have good (2-4 bars) 4G Lte signal on T-Mobile network. Never have problem even in elevators or sub-parkings.

    • Paul

      If an individual can afford to pay AT&T’s and Verizon’s prices then they can afford to get a phone with WiFi calling on T-Mobile. With WiFi calling they can have coverage wherever there is WiFi, which would include areas AT&T and Verizon cannot get to, so long as there is a WiFi signal.

      “… but if u have a good job like me and can afford it like I can then go for it…”
      If I have a good enough job I wouldn’t live in an area with terrible signal, so your argument is personal but moot.

    • Aaron C

      For some of us, it’s not whether or not we can afford it, it’s the principle of the matter. I was with Verizon for 12 years, and in 2012-13 they started nickle and diming me on everything. First it was trying to get rid of unlimited accounts. Then it was charging “fees” for upgrading phones. It was always something else, some way they were bilking me. Could I afford it? Sure. But why would I fork over an extra $100 a month to Verizon just because they were Verizon? When T-Mobile introduced their “uncarrier” plans, I knew if I moved over to T-Mo my coverage wouldn’t be as good. But you know what? I LIKED what they were doing — shaking things up. It was the principle. I paid my ETF’s to Verizon, bought a bunch of Nexus 4 phones for my family, and jumped, pledging to not ever give one more “red” cent of my income to Verizon. So far, so good, apart from the occasional coverage issue. But I know T-Mobile considers coverage their biggest flaw right now, and they’re taking steps to address it. 12-18 months from now, shouldn’t even be an issue. Very happy to be with T-Mobile right now. Verizon can go shuck itself, even though yes, I could afford it.

  • JetRanger

    FWIW, I picked up one of these two weeks ago from my local store here on Long Island. All I did was tell them I had service issues in my house and they gave me one free of charge. Of course they noted it on my account, but I literally walked out with it in a matter of 10 minutes with no hassle.

    • Guest

      o If an individual can afford to pay AT&T’s and Verizon’s prices then they can afford to get a phone with WiFi calling on T-Mobile. With WiFi calling they can have coverage wherever there is WiFi, which would include areas AT&T and Verizon cannot get to, so long as there is a WiFi signal.

      “… but if u have a good job like me and can afford it like I can then go for it…”
      If I have a good enough job I wouldn’t live in an area with terrible signal, so your argument is personal but moot.

      • JetRanger

        WiFi calling works perfectly. The problem for me at least with a Samsung phone is that you can’t send and receive MMS messages via WiFi calling. This is why I went and got the booster no for the ability to make a call. Never had a problem with that.

  • non conformist right here!

    I got one from Tmobile about a year ago because I live in a rural area. I am completely happy with the booster they provided, it get all bars and no dropped calls ever. It works great. Verizon and AT&T suck period and rip people off. I originally switched 6 years ago due to pricing and not having to sign anymore contracts! I PRAISE Tmobile for that. I would never use any of the other big 3 again. Their customer service is horrible as well. I can say I love Tmo for shaking up the industry and making the big dogs follow their lead! Haha

  • Levi Zortman

    I don’t think this thing supports LTE. Is that true?

    • Paul

      I checked the site selling these:
      T-Mobile: 4G HSPA+ and 3G dual band (AWS, 1.9GHz: 3GPP band 2 & band 4).

  • Paul

    Now that I read it increases data…well who doesn’t want one?!

  • Andrew Wong

    Thanks for the post! I was able to get cel-fi booster, all in one call. They even waived shipping for me (had to ask).

  • Edgar

    Why T-Mobile says it doesn’t work in Puerto Rico?

  • Brad

    I talked to tech dept today. They said my daughter didn’t qualify for one because she lives in an apartment. Your article states it is open to apartments. Which is it?

    • taino211

      Call again and talk to a different representative. I live in an apartment and they said that apartments/condos are now eligible and they sent me one. They even waived the shipping charge.

  • HHiram

    We have one of these. BEWARE. Worked fine for 8 weeks, then stopped working. Now has to be reset several times a day – takes 10-15 minutes each time. Total pain in the ass. Waiting for iOS8 and wifi calling for iPhones. Otherwise no choice but to spend hundreds of $ upgrading to new phones. Very frustrating.

  • MLiu

    Recently moved to an area with absolutely no reception. The new house only has signal (keeps jumping between 2G-4G LTE) in one room on the window sill. I contacted T-Mobile and they told me that they were out of stock (8/20/2014) with no ETA for new shipments. However, they told me that I could go to a local T-Mobile store and check if they had stock. If so, I could pick it up directly free of charge. Luckily I picked up the last one.

    In the home I tried plugging it in and nothing worked. After plugging it in the Power light kept flashing RED. After several calls of tech support, they were about to send a new kit to me. I then tried switching the power adapter between the unit and the window unit, and miraculously it worked. They then told me they would send me a replacement power adapter. Upon receiving the new adapter I tried it again. My reception has gone from absolutely nothing to 4 bars with 4G anywhere in the house.

    Conclusion: Works perfectly and impressively. Was extremely skeptical at first, but really a life saver. Make sure to follow the set up directions as closely as possible.

    • LakeFish

      Today is 9/17/14. The new LTE signal boosters were released by T-Mobile. You can call 611 and ask to trade it out.