T-Mobile targets preppers with backup FWA subscription

With network outages in the news again, and a grim-looking hurricane season on the way, T-Mobile US has launched a backup fixed-wireless access (FWA) service.

Nick Wood

June 7, 2024

2 Min Read
source: tmus

Called Home Internet Backup, its essentially an entry-level FWA subscription. Priced at $30 per month, it comes with a bundled home gateway and undercuts T-Mobile's cheapest Home Internet package by $20.

It's pitched at fixed broadband customers for use when their fibre or cable connection goes offline. Citing data from CivicScience, T-Mobile said nearly 20 percent of US Internet users experience outages "at least a few times per month."

When that happens, customers can switch over to Home Internet Backup and pick up where they left off. To discourage people from using it as their primary connection, the service comes with a monthly data cap of a still-generous 130 GB.

With a limited fixed broadband offering of its own, T-Mobile has been the most aggressive promoter of FWA among US operators, amassing around 5 million subscribers to date.

Home Internet Backup sounds like a niche offering, but it could prove to be a savvy move. It gives fixed broadband subscribers a taste of FWA, and might end up converting a few of them into cord-cutters.

As well as getting fixed-line broadband customers out of a tight spot, T-Mobile's new service might prove useful to a few AT&T wireless customers who have been left high and dry on more than one occasion this year.

AT&T revealed this week that an issue with its network was preventing some customers from placing calls to another unnamed network, widely believed to be Verizon.

In a thread on X, AT&T confirmed that it was not a nationwide problem, and it certainly didn't appear to be on the same damaging scale as February's 10-hour outage.

Nevertheless, it's a fresh source of embarrassment for AT&T, and as CNN reported, its initial lack of communication regarding the incident could damage customer loyalty.

Meanwhile, as the US braces for what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) drily describes as an 'above-normal' Atlantic hurricane season, Home Internet Backup could offer a vital comms link, albeit under very specific circumstances.

Should a customer be left without fixed-line connectivity but somehow still have electricity, they might just be able to avail themselves of T-Mobile's FWA service. Mobile networks are capable of switching to backup power when things go south, so this scenario is not be too far-fetched.

Indeed, ahead of last year's hurricane season, T-Mobile announced it had increased what it calls its 'network hardening footprint' by more than 30 percent, which is business speak for deploying extra backup generators at towers, cell sites, network switches and data centres so they still work during emergencies.

It also added to its fleet of base station-equipped trucks. These vehicles, which backhaul data via satellite, can provide emergency coverage in a pinch.

Hopefully it won't come to that, but at a time when certain operators are suffering from technical issues, it doesn't hurt to position yourself as a network that customers can rely on.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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