THEORETICAL question (not a legal question!):
Given there are *huge* gains to be made in cellular signal strength...
Q: Would T-Mobile *know* if I *moved* the femtocell and/or repeater to a
different location altogether than my own house?
I live in the Santa Cruz mountains, where all cellular carrier signal
sucks, and I have a big house ... hence, my cellular carrier, T-Mobile,
provides me a free femtocell, and since my Internet comes from about 5
miles away over the air via WISP from another mountain, T-Mobile also gave
me a free cellular repeater.
Here's a picture of the repeater and femtocell:
Here is a picture of just one of my many access points inside my house:
Given that there is unquestionably a *huge* signal strength advantage:
The question came up in another discussion by "The Real Bev" whether the
repeater or femtocell can "realistically" be "moved" to a second or third
Ignoring the legality, since, as I recall, T-Mobile made me agree verbally
over the phone that I would inform them if I move them, and knowing that
the output of both transformers are 12VDC at 1.5 and 2.0 Amps, the question
is *theoretical* only!
Q: How would T-Mobile *know* if I *moved* the femtocell and/or repeater to
a different location altogether than my own house?
This is a response from "The Real Bev" brought over from the other thread
so that we can keep the answers together in one related thread.
The ">" denotes "Harold Newton", while lack of ">" is "The Real Bev".
Exactly. Does it have a wall-wart with a USB socket? OTOH, I have a
couple of converters...
Why would they bother? Why would they even care?
I have USB and earphone sockets, but no ethernet :-( Does it normally
plug into 110V with a wallwart? I have a converter. Doesn't solve the
ethernet problem, though, which presumes a router :-( Never mind...
You'd think they'd provide a simple cigarette-lighter plug-in unit.
It's to their advantage that you be able to connect with T-Mobile as
often as possible -- otherwise you might choose Verizon. Maybe even a
rechargeable battery-operated unit so I could phone from the ski slope :-)
Perhaps run a VPN on your phone. No idea how practical this is.
It's 12VDC at 1.5 Amps but we don't know how well regulated it needs to be.
However, the end of the wall wort looks like the standard circle:dot plugs.
So it's trivial to wire the power to work in a vehicle.
(This assumes the EMF isn't too high nor automotive voltage fluctuation.)
Heh heh heh... because everyone would want to carry around their own
personal cell tower, I suspect.
But I really do not know why they made me agree, over the phone, as I
recall, to not moving it without telling them. Dunno why they would care,
but, they did give them to me based on my particular location and they have
to cost them money - so - it seems consistent that they'd want me to use it
for the same purpose that they gave it to me for.
I'm not arguing against their rationale at all.
I'm just wondering what you wondered, which is whether it would *continue*
to work, longer term, while traveling.
I feel it's almost certain, if not certain, that it would work anywhere,
short term, just as putting a SIM card into a smart phone on the olden days
on AT&T would work for a while and then AT&T would slam you with data
charges even though you have a data block on the line.
It would just depend on how long T-Mobile would take to catch that you
moved it, and whether they cared that you did.
Can they remotely turn it off? The femtocell, probably. The repeater?
The wall wart isn't the problem, as long as you end up with reasonably well
regulated 12VDC at about 1.5 to 2.0 Amps without too much EMF.
The femtotower would work wonders anywhere where you have a WiFi access
point handy, and 120VAC, but if you want it to work inside a vehicle, then
the femtocell isn't your first choice becuase it requires an Internet
connection via RJ45.
So, for your purpose, of working in a car, only the repeater is potentially
I'm not going to argue with you.
Probably the FCC has something to say about "roving cell towers" though, as
that's what it would be.
BTW, *anyone* can connect to the repeated amplified cellular tower that is
in your house ... (even the femtotower), so in the case of the femtowoer,
you're offloading T-Mobile's cellular traffic onto your ISP and in the case
of the repeater, you're acting as a free cellular tower for T-Mobile's
customers to use.
It doesn't go all that far though. Maybe a few hundred feet, at best for
those high-decibel signal strengths I posted earlier.
VPN at the *router* would probably "confuse" T-Mobile, I agree.
I've had these things for a few years, so here's all I can tell you.
T-Mobile offered me three choices, of which I took two (but normally you
only get one choice):
1. Free no-deposit Wi-Fi router, or,
2. Free no-deposit Femto tower (connected to your router), or,
3. Free no-deposit cellular repeater (two units, one window, one tower).
The first one "is" a router, while the second connects "to" a router and
acts like a tower inside your house, while the third grabs a signal from a
tower outside your house and re-broadcasts that signal as a "tower" inside
Anyone in the vicinity on T-Mobile can use that signal.
I don't know more than this, and even some of this "can" be wrong, which is
why I asked the folks on s.e.r and a.h.r for additional advice for you.
On Tue, 23 Jan 2018 14:35:25 -0800, The Real Bev wrote:
Yes, there is "supposedly" a deposit, just like there is a SIM card fee of
something like $15, but T-Mobile has *never* charged me either, and I get a
*lot* of SIM cards from them, and two of these "cell spot" devices.
BTW, from a branding perspective, "Cell Spot" is sort of like "iPhone".
They use that "cell spot" name for *different* things.
Both of my devices are *called* a "personal cellspot:, but they're
One is a repeater.
The other is a femtotower.
Both make an astoundingly huge difference in signal strength!
https://u.cubeupload.com/RUsTGy.jpg> I assume this is the repeater.
No. That's the free femtocell that plugs into your router.
The "repeater" is the two-piece unit called "4G LET Signal Booster":
You see two of them in that photo because I complained to T-Mobile about it
not working and they sent me a new one by next-day delivery.
The femtocell is the one on the right called "4G LTE CellSpot".
They "waived" the supposed deposit for me and for *every* one of my
relatives who got it (more than one). So I don't think there "is" a
deposit, in practice.
I think they said they'd charge me $400 if I didn't return it when they ask
for it, e.g., when they sent me a second repeater (aka signal booster).
On Tue, 23 Jan 2018 17:55:24 -0800 (PST), email@example.com wrote:
I am responding *kindly* and *gently* in response to your insults, Snit,
which I will ignore completely because I gain nothing of value by
embarrassing you in front of everyone.
I just want the answer to the basic technical question of how T-Mobile
would know the *location* of the cellular repeater unless the repeater
somehow tells the cellular tower that its signal is being "repeated" by the
I think you may have accidentally inadvertently misunderstood the question.
The ISP is not involved in the least.
The cellular repeater works completely *outside* the ISP.
HINT: These devices are *completely different* in functionality.
The ISP is *not* involved with the repeater. Period.
It seems you accidentally inadvertently misunderstood the question.
Again... Please read what I wrote.
The TOWER *is* involved with the cellular repeater.
The ISP is *not* involved with the cellular repeater.
HINT: Nobody is talking about the femtocell wired to the router. :)
I'm not sure why me being educated and yet still of average intelligence
upsets you so much, Snit.
Anyway, ignoring the untoward insults from you, I just hope that you
realize this thread isn't a contest of who is smarter than whom.
OK. You're smarter. I have no problem admitting that.
In fact, Jeff Liebermann is far smarter than both of us, combined.
I don't care who is smarter. I really don't.
I just care about the answer to the question.
It's OK if you don't know what a cellular repeater is, and it's even ok
that you don't know the answer to the question in the last post.
But please don't try to insult someone like me simply because *you* want to
feel smug - as it doesn't add any value to the conversation.
a. It doesn't help me.
b. It doesn't help anyone else.
c. And it's certainly not becoming of you.
Snit, Once you slow down, and stop trying to prove an intellectual mastery
over me, who is only of average intelligence, you will realize (if you read
what I wrote and that which you are responding), that I asked you a
question about the cellular repeater.
Remember, Snit ... I didn't ask the question about the femtocell.
1. I asked if the repeater works the way I said it did, and,
2. I asked you *how* T-Mobile would know *where* that repeater was.
It's perfectly fine if you do not know the answer to those questions, but
it's really not becoming for you to intimate you "laid a trap" when you
don't even seem to understand the questions.
Really. I'm trying to be as gentle with you as I can. I am.
Let's repeat that nobody ever said otherwise, Snit.
You appear to be talking about the femtocell - which ties to the ISP -
which absolutely nobody disputed. Ever.
The question you are responding to wasn't about the femtocell.
The question was about the repeater.
Please read the post you are responding to again.
Maybe one more time after that.
If, after that, you still don't understand the difference, that's fine.
But please don't immediately resort to insults merely because you don't
know the difference so you misunderstood the question.
Snit: It's OK that you misunderstood the question.
The only thing I care about is the *answer* to the question.
Do you know the answer to the question in the post you're responding to?
If so, please let us all know.
The ISP is not involved in the least with a *repeater* (aka booster).
Look at these pictures. They're *not* all the same device!
Until you understand the difference between a repeater and a femtocell, you
won't be able to help anyone.
You writing untoward self-serving insults isn't helping anyone either. :)
We're talking "cellular" signal, where there is no IP address involved.
There "is" a carrier-derived IP address for data, but that's different.
My ISP is completely out of the loop with this cellular repeater.
Until you understand that, you won't be able to help anyone.
Yes. We *always* said the femtocell is tied to the router which is tied to
your ISP which is tied to an IP address.
Nobody *ever* said otherwise.
We aren't asking about the femtocell; we're *clearly* asking about the
cellular repeater (aka the cellular booster).
I'll be nice again, Snit, and just say you might want to reconsider that
statement in light of the facts presented very clearly to you above.
Again. I'll be nice in saying that your remarks are untoward, and therefore
I will merely ignore the insults.
Again, I'll be nice in just asking you to re-read the post you are
responding to, and if you know the answer to the question posed, then
please let us all know.
If you do not know the answer to the question, or if (as it seems) you
don't even *understand* the question - it's best for all concerned
(including yourself) if you refrain from posting in this thread again.
Thanks! And good luck. I wish you the best, Snit.
I just wish *someone* (a) understands the question, and (b) knows the
answer to the question.
BTW, you acted *exactly* like you did in this rather humorous video: < https://youtu.be/7QaABa6DFIo
On Tue, 23 Jan 2018 22:48:39 -0600, Fox's Mercantile wrote:
Hehhehheh... do you realize what you just accidentally did?
You responded, as Fox, to the post to your *other* nym, pfjw.
You really need to get your nyms straight, Snit.
I suggest you work on that before respoonding as the wrong nym again.
Seriously Snit ... I'm being very gentle with you, where I'll just note
that you haven't added a single iota of technical value to this thread, so
I suggest you stop posting to it, as the rest of us are trying to get
Thanks for understanding the gentle request to stay on topic.
If you *understand* the question, please do answer it.
If not, please refrain from posting as it adds nothing of value for anyone.
On Tue, 23 Jan 2018 17:44:12 +0000 (UTC), Harold Newton
You do the grunt work this time. Dig into the instructions for the
Femtocell box and see if it has a GPS inside. If it's not clear, grab
the FCCID and look it up on the FCCID site. If it has a GPS, T-Mobile
will know where you're located. Whether they do anything about a
change in location is unknown. I've moved a Verizon femtocell box
about 50 miles without any problems. However, that was inside Verizon
territory. If you move your T-Mobile femtocell to some location where
T-Mobile doesn't claim to have service, I have not idea if they will
thank you for improving their footprint, disconnect your service, or
something in between. Good luck.
Jeff Liebermann firstname.lastname@example.org
150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
On Wed, 24 Jan 2018 09:46:53 -0800, Jeff Liebermann wrote:
Thanks for that input.
It's not a big deal because I was answering the question for "The Real
Bev", where I'm pretty sure (but not positive) the answer is thus.
The Repeater "probably" does not report back to the cellular provider
anything as it's likely just a "bridge" of sorts that just passes the MAC
address (among other things) straight through.
In that case, the cellular provider probably can't tell that you moved the
repeater because it likely doesn't even know that the repeater is involved.
The Femtocell is *completely* different.
They know *everything* about the Femtocell; so it's interesting you were
able to move it. Perhaps the IP geolocation isn't great enough, in your
test, to flag their "movement" algorithm.
I found repeaters to be useless junk for weak signal areas. I think they
would be fine for repeating a signal through a steel walled building or
something of that sort.
I had an AT&T Femtocell... still do. But I don't have an AT&T account, so
I can't test it in my current location. Wonderful thing.
I noticed that Kaiser Hospital has Verizon Femtocell. You can see them in
the hallways, and a little house icon appears above the full-bar cellular
icon on my phone.
"Everything"? How do they know Everything?
I disagree with Jeff L occasionally, but, he's never wrong.
As I recall, my AT&T Femtocell did have a GPS, and setup advice included
positioning it near a window if it didn't activate correctly.
I didn't have a problem activating it, so I don't know if it needs GPS
after a power failure, or IP change, etc.
Clarence A Dold - Santa Rosa, CA, USA GPS: 38.47,-122.65
On Thu, 25 Jan 2018 17:58:50 +0000 (UTC), email@example.com wrote:
Agreed that Jeff is usually on the money and that you have a point which is
that the femtocell comes with a GPS contraption, which you only use during
the initial setup.
You can see the stick-on GPS unit bottom right in the photo below.
Why did they ask me to plug that GPS unit in *only* during setup?
On Thu, 25 Jan 2018 19:56:36 +0000 (UTC), Harold Newton
Hardly. I probably make more mistakes than others. The difference is
that I usually admit being wrong. Feel free to trust me, but it pays
Good question. It didn't take much for me to find out what happens if
one doesn't have a GPS signal with a Verizon nanocellular box:
This is 3G only, no LTE. From a cold start, it takes 15-30 minutes
for the unit to boot to the point where it will accept calls. If the
GPS has a good view of the sky, 10 minutes is about the fastest I've
seen. If you have a partial or marginal view (as most of my customers
do), much longer.
If I take a working unit (all lights blue), and pull the plug on the
external GPS antenna connector, it remains functional for about 20
minutes. It then starts flashing the GPS lock light and will not
accept or receive calls. After loss of lock, if I plug the antenna
back in, it locks faster than a cold start. I didn't time this, but
my guess(tm) is about half.
If I take a working unit (all lights blue), and remove power at the
wall wart, it will recover lock in about 5 minutes. However, if I
leave it unplugged for over 15 minutes, it will take 10-30 minutes, as
in the initial cold boot, to lock again.
So, my guess(tm) is that:
1. There is no non-volatile storage in the unit to store the GPS
position and to provide a faster cold lock.
2. There is a BFC (big fat capacitor) inside to help deal with power
3. Without a GPS signal, it will make phone calls for about 15-20
minutes before it quits, after which it will refuse to make or accept
Not all devices are created equal. As micro/nano/pico/femto/extender
cellular devices go, this Verizon unit is rather old. The T-Mobile
devices are much newer and may have improvements in the GPS area, such
as battery, supercap, or NVRAM backup. Dunno. Testing is easy
enough. Set it up so it works, cover the GPS antenna, and wait for
the device to complain.
Jeff Liebermann firstname.lastname@example.org
150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
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