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T-Mobile Personal CellSpot AC Router by Asus - Free for postpaid ($25 deposit)

bfr05t 12 320 September 10, 2014 at 02:23 PM in Routers (5) More T-Mobile Deals
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Last Edited by cricket702 September 10, 2014 at 03:40 PM
This was just announced during Uncarrier 7.0 so details are still coming in but as it stands, it is an ASUS ac router for tmobile customers - Postpaid is Free with $25 deposit, Prepaid is $100. That is a steal! www.tmobile.com

Thanks to dreamexecution for the more in depth breakdown
"It's the Asus TM-AC1900 Dual Band, 3x3 Wireless-AC 1900 Router.

- Brand: ASUS
- Model: TM-AC1900 dual-band router
- 3×3 wireless-ac
- 1900 gigabits (1.9 Terabits)
- 1x USB 2.0 port
- 1x USB 3.0 port
- 2 channels – 2.4GHz and 5GHz
- 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- 4x LAN ports
- Works with most USB HDDs/Flash disks up to 2TB and supports read-write access for FAT16, FAT32, EXT2, EXT3 and NTFS

T-Mobile support page: http://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-10864

Customized router prioritizes HD voice calls over data usage so it won't be competing for bandwidth. But, it also works as a regular router.

T-Mobile also announced free texting and visual voicemail on domestic airline flights via Gogo.

Wifi calls to the United States (while you're abroad) are also free."
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Last Edited by travelnshot Yesterday at 12:19 AM
Quote :
imo it's not worth the time to configure and flash routers you don't own and will have to return. Imagine changing cell service down the line, you'll have to buy new routers, flash them, configure in your network. The price is too high even for free routers.

Been using these for a year, stock firmware is meh stable. Needs a reboot once a month, and its finicky about grabbing internet connection from my modem. They're a pita. I'm returning mine to T-Mobile and buying>flashing routers that I will own, so I won't need to return upon changing service.

Food for thought.


This TM-AC1900 router can be flashed over to a Asus RT-AC68U to support the following 3rd party firmware:
OFFICIAL ASUS FIRMWARE [asus.com]
ASUSWRT MERLIN FIRMWARE [lostrealm.ca]
JOHNS MERLIN FORK FIRMWARE [snbforums.com]
TOMATO BY SHIBBY [groov.pl]
ADVANCED TOMATO FIRMWARE [advancedtomato.com]
DD-WRT FIRMWARE [dd-wrt.com]
OPEN-WRT FIRMWARE [openwrt.org]

(One of the few routers that supports most major 3rd party firmwares)
Process summary below:
Do not flash if you do no have the need to do so.
Yes, it is possible to 'upgrade' the firmware, but if you don't know what the 'upgrades' and extra features are for then it is all useless. This router will works fine out of the box for the average person using Stock tmobile firmware Note that there is a chance of bricking the router if you do not follow the CFE changing instructions properly.
Note: Average time to do this. First time Novice but VERY literate & Patient: 2-3hrs
Regular user with no computer comprehension: Dont even attempt and have your "geek" friend do it.


OUTLINE OF PROCESS
1) If you are running Tmobile Firmware version 3.0.0.4.376_3108 or earlier you must DOWNGRADE the firmware to T-Mobile Firmware version .1703 (to enable Telnet)
2) Extract CFE bootloader and copy/paste MAC addresses and WPS code into Retail Asus CFE. (1.0.2.0 retail is probably the best one to use)
4) Flash Asus CFE
5) Then flash your choice of firmware using Aus Restore Utility or MiniCFE webpage



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This following method works as of April 2016 and works if you are running firmware version 3.0.0.4.376_3108 or earlier. NOTE: If the Guide tells you to press or wait for 20 seconds, it means 20 seconds, not 19 not 17, not 10...it tells you to wait for 5 minutes, its a FULL 5 minutes, not 3 minutes, not 4 minutes 30 seconds, it means 5 MINUTES! If you have NO patience or time and cant follow instructions this guide is not for you.

PROCESS1: DOWNGRADING FIRMWARE TO V3.0.0.4_376.1703
0) Disconnect the router from the network/internet, only 1 wired Ethernet cable should be plugged into any LAN port, DO NOT do any firmware related flashing via WIRELESS
1) Restore FACTORY DEFAULTS of the Router, this should set the IP of the router to 192.168.29.1
2) Set your computer to use a static IP of 192.168.29.88
3) Set your router to Recovery/Restore Mode by:
Turn power off to the router by disconnecting the power cable
Wait 10 seconds
Press and Hold the Reset button
Restore power to router while continuing to hold Reset button
Continue to hold Reset button for 20 seconds then let go of the reset
4) Wait 180 seconds (for router to fully boot)
5)using the "Asus Firmware Restoration Tool" or "MiniCFE webpage" (MiniCFE webpage is using a web browser and going to the routers IP of 192.168.29.1)
6) Flash the Tmobile firmware version 3.0.0.4_376_1703 TRX file.
7) Wait 5 mins
8) Perform a NVRAM RESET by:
Turn power off to the router by disconnecting the power cable
Wait 10 seconds
Press and hold the WPS button
Restore power to router while continuing to hold WPS button
Continue to hold WPS button for 20 seconds then let go
9) wait 5 mins
10) The firmware should now be downgraded and you can verify by longing into the router and checking the firmware version through the web browser interface.

PROCESS 2: ENABLING "TELNET" AND FLASSHING "CFE":
1) Considering you are on Tmobile firmware version 1703, RESTORE FACTORY DEFAULTS
2) Login to the router using the web browser and navigate to the ADMINISTRATION > SYSTEM> ENABLE TELNET> YES (then apply and save settings)
3) Change the CFE using Engineers guide, i recommend using CFE 1.0.2.0 and MTD Write v2.
Engineer's New CFE Flashing Guide: http://slickdeals.net/forums/showpost.php?p=73690012&postcount=3895.
Please read though guide and post comments (both good and bad) in the thread. Thanks: Engineer

PROCESS 3: FLASHING YOUR CUSTOM FIRMWARE
(instructions below assume you are on tmobile firmware version 1703 with new moddified CFE) in other words...you followed the instructions above already. (If you are on new Asus CFE but different firmware you router IP address may be different, most likley 192.168.1.1)

NOTE: If you are flashing later versions of Asus or Merlin 376.xxxx or ANY version of 378.xxxx or 380.xxxx (Asus or Merlin), you must flash to a firmware that will expand your rootfs partition from 32M to 64M first. Asus 376.3626 is recommended. Flash Asus 376.3626 and after installation, reset NVRAM. This will expand your rootfs partition and allow the new firmwares to install correctly!

Download for 376.3626: http://dlcdnet.asus.com/pub/ASUS/...1473784618

1) Set Static ip of 192.168.29.88 for your PC if router is using tmobile firmware
(or Static IP of 192.168.1.88 if on retail asus firmware or custom firmware)
2) Perform NVRAM RESET
Turn power off to the router by disconnecting the power cable
Wait 10 seconds
Press and hold the WPS button
Restore power to router while continuing to hold WPS button
Continue to hold WPS button for 20 seconds then let go
3) wait 5 mins for router to fully boot
4)Place router into Restore / Recovery mode
Turn power off to the router by disconnecting the power cable
Wait 10 seconds
Press and hold the Reset button
Restore power to router while continuing to hold Reset button
Continue to hold Reset button for 20 seconds then let go
5) wait 180 seconds for router to enter recovery
6) using the "Asus Firmware Restoration Tool" or "MiniCFE webpage" MiniCFE webpage is using a web browser point or go to the routers IP of 192.168.29.1 (or 192.168.1.1 if you already are on custom firmware)
7) Flash your custom firmware and wait 5 mins
8) unplug the power from the router for 10 seconds
9) plug in the power and wait 180 seconds
10) Perform NVRAM RESET
Turn power off to the router by disconnecting the power cable
Wait 10 seconds
Press and hold the WPS button
Restore power to router while continuing to hold WPS button
Continue to hold WPS button for 20 seconds then let go
11) Wait 5 mins
12) Set your computer IP from Static to DHCP
13) Login to the router and enjoy your new firmware, the routers ip is most likley at this point 192.168.1.1,



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Video how to install it right out of the box on Windows.

Update Sep 23, 2016: Concise, clear step-by-step video using Windows 10. Check comments if your T-Mobile CellSpot is on 3.0.0.4.376_3169.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_giMfTYIzI

Works with ALL the tmobile TM-AC1900 cellspot routers as of 4/15/2016. it had CFE 2.1.2.2 and was downgraded and installed 1.0.2.0 The video below shows to install and change CFE and Flash firmware right out of the box
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI6D0LMkm3s
NOTE: in this video the router enters recovery and the lights blink, HOWEVER on the newer models the router will enter recovery the same way but the LIGHTS DO NOT BLINK. As long as you unplug and then re-plug the power to router while continuing to hold WPS button for 20 seconds you should be in recovery, do not worry if the lights are not blinking.

below is the list of utilities and file needed that were mentioned in the video
Mirror 1: http://www.filedropper.com/tmo2ac68u
Mirror 2: https://mega.co.nz/#!olRUzYZY!g7U...dG3_DvfWgc
tmo2ac68u.rar
MD5: ABDF6F5DF89DFE247C6C2491ABE27085
SHA1: 15AC7279D28FD78D2DDA7E901A92066E83833B71
CRC32: DC5622B4
SHA-256: 32E841579DE1CDBBF33433D266D004D7229579D658AB8C1B07E668453947AD86
FILE SIZE: 69,131,135


FILE DOWNLOADS
Asus pulled the restore utilities for the RT-AC68 series..here is a copy below:
http://www.filedropper.com/utrtac68u4292

ASUS has removed the firmware from their site. Use this link to download the firmware
Version: 3.0.0.4.376.1703
Description: TM-AC1900 First Firmware version 3.0.0.4.376.1703
File Size: 16,55 (MBytes)
Another link to the 1703 firmware: https://www.dropbox.com/s/o58wury...3.zip?dl=0 or http://www.filedropper.com/fwtmac190030043761703
MD5: 28a1e9558fbd6b297ccc296b4c6a3918
SHA1: 14d0bc5d66dcd27977a2fff540347a9fa58217da



Asus 376.3626 firmware link: http://dlcdnet.asus.com/pub/ASUS/...1473784618
This firmware is needed after upgrading your CFE to expand your rootfs partition from 32M to 64M. Later 376.xxxx and all 378 and 380 firmwares need this 64M rootfs partition. They will not load otherwise.

QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE FOR FLASHING OPERATIONS
TELNET COMMANDS:

This command shows the board revision
nvram get boardrev

This command shows the hardware revision
nvram get HW_ver

This command shows the bootloader version (This checks the CFE version)
nvram get bl_version


Hardware NVRAM Reset:
Turn power off to the router by disconnecting the power cable
Wait 10 seconds
Press and hold the WPS button
Restore power to router while continuing to hold WPS button
Continue to hold WPS button for 20 seconds


Place router into Restore / Recovery mode:
Turn power off to the router by disconnecting the power cable
Wait 10 seconds
Press and hold the Reset button
Restore power to router while continuing to hold Reset button
Continue to hold Reset button for 20 seconds


Another (original but outdated) guide by JSquare here:
http://slickdeals.net/forums/showpost.php?p=71097168&postcount=2814



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
BELOW THIS LINE IS WIKI INFORMATION ON THE ACTUAL DEAL AND METHODS FOR OBTAINING THE ROUTER
__________________________________________________________________
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Received the router on Friday, 9/19, and can confirm that the ASKEY TM-AC1900 is T-Mobile's branding (or coding) for the ASUS AC1900 router. On one end of the box is a T-Mobile barcode label that shows (among other things), "ASKEY TM-AC1900 WI-FI CELLSPOT & Router." On the other end of the box it shows (in large, bold black letters), "ASUS TM-AC1900 Dual-band Wireless Router" with all of the specs mentioned in the OP and online.

ASKEY = TMO'S ReBranding of ASUS (Isn't Askey the original manufacturer and Asus is the one that rebrands their routers?)

Now available! (September 17, 2014)

CNET REVIEW http://www.cnet.com/products/t-mo...-cellspot/

SUPPORT PAGE AND SETUP VIDEO http://support.t-mobile.com/commu...pot-router http://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-10864

Non-return fee = $99 + tax. Don't lose it! Paperwork included says "You will be charged up to $99 if you fail to return the device after termination of your services with T-Mobile, or return it damaged."

When ordering via phone be aware that there are two products sharing the CellSpot name.
One is the CellSpot 4g/LTE signal booster. UnBoxing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yQxZZZOVO8
The other is the CellSpot wifi router. UnBoxing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taj1-TY7Iuk
If you want the router be sure to ask for the router specifically and have the rep double check before you hang up.


The following is taken from this post: http://slickdeals.net/forums/showpost.php?p=70515822&postcount=363
TofuVic's call, with tips:
Quote from TofuVic View Post :
My order has been placed! I called their customer service line the very minute they opened at 3am PDT.

My call, with tips:
  1. Call this T-Mobile phone number: 1-800-937-8997. This is a more direct line than through 611.
  2. Say "representative."
  3. Say the last four digits of your social security number.
  4. When the representative arrives, say you'd like the free router through the Cell Spot promotion. If desired, ask if the representative is aware of the promotion.
    • The representative I spoke with is familiar with the Cell Spot promotion and said I was the very first person he is helping with this promotion.
Other details from the call:
  • Note that I am not a Simple Choice customer. I have a postpaid contract with T-Mobile through February 2015.
  • The router must be returned if you are no longer a T-Mobile customer.
  • The representative said that the $25 deposit is waived for orders between now and September 24, 2014.
  • The representative said that there may be a $6.99 shipping fee for orders after September 24, 2014.
    • For faster shipping, you can pay a fee.
  • I should expect my order to arrive on Friday, September 26, 2014.
  • I was given an order number at the end of my call. If you do not get one, ask the representative for it.
  • You can track your order via text messaging using #TRK#.
  • I was not asked, but it may help to point out that you have poor reception and poor call quality in your residence. Perhaps say you usually have 2 bars of service.
  • I had a wait time of approximately 3 minutes, and the rest of the call lasted approximately 13 minutes (do note that I spent about 4 minutes asking about other items on my T-Mobile account). The representative apologized several times, stating that their systems are pretty swamped and predicted that it would get worse later today.
I hope this helps!
Tofu Vic

Link to GOGO compatible phones for use on GOGO service on equipped aircraft:

http://www.t-mobile.com/offer/fre...hones.html

From the specs given this is probably just an Asus RT-AC68U with a t-mobile silkscreen on it and perhaps some custom firmware or QoS settings. It's not a femtocell(device that puts out 3g signal) so no dice Nexus and unbranded phone owners.

From tmobile:
http://www.t-mobile.com/offer/wif...nders.html
It reads
Qualifying wireless service, compatible phone & broadband Internet connection required for Wi-Fi Calling. May require plan change.

Simple Choice and Grandfathered plans qualify.

Quote from MastarPete View Post :
I think T-Mobile botched this UnCarrier 7.0 announcement in the way they tried to explain it.
So let me take a moment to try and explain the technology involved here..

Since 2007 T-Mobile has offered wifi calling for an additional fee and had paid plan addons but it has since been opened up to anyone with a compatible phone.
Since then WiFi Calling has been considered a CORE FEATURE of T-Mobile service regardless of the plan you are on or how long you've had it.

What makes this new Wifi Calling push interesting is that T-Mobile is making the switch to VoLTE, otherwise known as Voice over LTE.

VoLTE is an entirely IP - data based - protocol. It means your cell phone is sending your voice call out as data.
Think of it like having Vonage built into your cell phone, no app necessary.

Since VoLTE is all data based it becomes easier to route the voice data over any internet connection that is available.
T-Mobile can now just modify the Android OS (Apple Modified iOS at the request of T-Mobile) to re-route your voice call and SMS texts to go out over any WiFi connection and temporarily "pauses" your phone's connection to the cell tower.
Because T-Mobile is modifying the Android OS to add WiFi Calling you will need a T-Mobile branded phone that has Wifi Calling built in.
T-Mobile's method of providing WiFi Calling requires deeper interaction with the phone's hardware than what a simple app can have access to even if rooted.

The ability to route voice calls and texts over a wifi connection is why T-Mobile is able to make the claim that any WiFi hostspot is now a T-Mobile Cell tower.
It's just marketing speak.

Now in order to ensure WiFi calls work properly you need to have a properly configured wifi router and an existing broadband internet connection that is capable of handling high priority time sensitive traffic.

That is where the CellSpot Router comes in.
The CellSpot Router is being offered to ensure everyone with T-Mobile post or pre-paid service have a Router that is capable of handling the high priority time sensitive traffic traffic WiFi calling generates, in a way that can minimize problems when making WiFi calls at the same time as other internet downloads in your home.

T-Mobile post paid customers with a Simple Choice plan can pick one up for a $25 refundable deposit. If you do not return the router after cancelling T-Mobile service you will likely be charged the remaining cost of the router. If additional CellSpot routers are needed, each additional CellSpot will be $99.
T-Mobile pre-paid customers will be charged the same $99 for each router.

To minimize problems during calls the CellSpot Router is pre-configured out of the box to optimize WiFi traffic and to give a higher priority to WiFi calling's high priority time sensitive traffic internet traffic.
To Quote John Legere's comment (T-Mobile CEO) during the Uncarrier 7.0 press event.
Quote from John Legere :
"It means if your kid is upstairs downloading a bunch of porn you can still make calls without having to worry about call quality."
To use the CellSpot Router you need to have an existing broadband internet connection.
Meaning you connect the CellSpot Router your existing DSL or cable modem.
The CellSpot Router is based off of the same hardware that is used by ASUS to make the RT-AC68U.
http://www.tmonews.com/2014/09/t-...ac-router/
The ASUS RT-AC68U is a high end AC1900 class router therefore it is safe to say CellSpot Router is going to perform BETTER than most people's existing home routers or combination modems with built in router and wifi.
Since this is going to be T-Mobile branded, certain value added ASUS firmware features will likely be left out to keep the price down and make firmware updates simpler.
This router is capable of running third party firmwares.


So, to be absolutely clear.
CELLSPOT IS NOT A FEMTOCELL
CELLSPOT IS NOT A MICROCELL
CELLSPOT IS A HIGH PERFORMANCE WIFI ROUTER


If you have T-Mobile post-paid service but do not have a phone capable of WiFi Calling and are in a weak coverage area you can call T-Mobile customer support and request a Cell-Fi signal booster for free.

Quote from tritron4 View Post :
If anyone has poor signal at home/work call loyalty department. Tell them you have one signal bar and none of your phones support wifi calling. Tell them that your calls get droped.
T-mobile will send you Cel-FI for free that is saving of 575. Now i have full bars instead of one or two and no more drooped calls.
http://support.t-mobile.com/commu...al-booster
http://cel-fi.com/product/cel-fi-...r-t-mobile
I have CEL-FI and i was able to order CELL SPOT , so there is no need to return the equipment
^ Isn't really true. YMMY at best. I was forced, as well as everyone I know was forced to return the Cel-Fi if I wanted the router at no cost.

The router remains property of T-Mobile USA, Inc.; the deposit is kept & a non-return fee applied if the device is not returned when Wireless service is terminated.
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#3
how to order it.
it does not show up on t-mobile web site
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#4
It's the Asus TM-AC1900 Dual Band, 3x3 Wireless-AC 1900 Router.

- Brand: ASUS
- Model: TM-AC1900 dual-band router
- 3×3 wireless-ac
- 1900 gigabits (1.9 Terabits)
- 1x USB 2.0 port
- 1x USB 3.0 port
- 2 channels – 2.4GHz and 5GHz
- 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- 4x LAN ports
- Works with most USB HDDs/Flash disks up to 2TB and supports read-write access for FAT16, FAT32, EXT2, EXT3 and NTFS

T-Mobile support page: http://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-10864

Customized router prioritizes HD voice calls over data usage so it won't be competing for bandwidth. But, it also works as a regular router.

T-Mobile also announced free texting and visual voicemail on domestic airline flights via Gogo.


Wifi calls to the United States (while you're abroad) are also free.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Last edited by dreamexecution September 10, 2014 at 03:06 PM
#5
Quote from cgigate View Post :
how to order it.
it does not show up on t-mobile web site
Read... just announced
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#6
I think it will be available on September 17th.
I already have this router and plan on getting the Tmobile version to improve the spotty indoor reception.
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#7
Hell of a deal! will definitely grab one once it's available
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#8
What they didn't announce was if the "cell tower in the home" calls count against minutes or if they are free on pre-paid accounts. My guess is NO!
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
#9
Will other T-Mobile users near my home use the router as well (like the Sprint wifi signal booster)? Not that I care about bandwidth, but if others can access my router, there is security concern.
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#10
Quote from wannacry45 View Post :
Will other T-Mobile users near my home use the router as well (like the Sprint wifi signal booster)? Not that I care about bandwidth, but if others can access my router, there is security concern.
No...
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#11
So, this thing can be used as a router ( as well as a cell phone booster)?
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
#12
With today's Google Voice/Hangouts integration finally being rolled out, is there any reason those of us on the $30 prepaid plan need this product?
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#13
Quote from trace30 View Post :
What they didn't announce was if the "cell tower in the home" calls count against minutes or if they are free on pre-paid accounts. My guess is NO!
hence the target is postpaid customers. details still aren't very clear on everything tho
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#14
Quote from wannacry45 View Post :
Will other T-Mobile users near my home use the router as well (like the Sprint wifi signal booster)? Not that I care about bandwidth, but if others can access my router, there is security concern.
They wont. T-mobile did say that only authenticated users will be able to access for now. ** they did mention that it may change in future**
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#15
Quote from zyx987 View Post :
So, this thing can be used as a router ( as well as a cell phone booster)?
Yes...

It's basically this router, but customized for T-Mobile

http://www.cnet.com/products/asus...it-router/
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