Bottom line, at the top: you want the B890-66.
The B890-66 is the model for North America, and is reported to work fine with T-Mobile. The -75 is for Europe and maybe some places in Asia. Unsure about the -53 and -73.
"AWS", also known as "1700/2100", is important for T-Mobile. I believe it's where T-Mobile 4G works. The -66 model is the only one with AWS support. The other FDD (LTE) bands listed for the B890-66 are the main cellular bands in the U.S.
What you have on 3G is incomplete. Full list is:
3G UMTS/WCDMA Bands: 2100/1900/900/850 MHz
All the models have the same 3G and 2G support.
A few limits to be aware of on the B890:
- WiFi is 802.11n, not the more recent 802.11ac
- Doesn't have 5 GHz WiFi (i.e. not dual band WiFi)
- Ethernet is 100 base-T, not 1000 base-T (i.e. doesn't support gigabit ethernet)
- No fax support on voice line (but that's common for internet voice)
I bought a Huawei B890-66 off EBay and regret it. First off, my T-Mobile store activated the second line and SIM I bought for it as an iPad data device. They had never heard of a 4G modem.
Once I put a phone SIM it worked for about a week then it randomly stopped recognizing the SIM and I get continuous security block messages with Chrome. More frustrating is its only about half as fast as my iPhone 7. I bought a Huawei external antenna for it hoping to improve signal but it degraded it. Even though the modem LED panel shows 4 bars signal, when I log onto the modem the interface shows only 1 bar and rates it "weak signal." I live in Hawaii and the only band I can connect with is 12/700. The seller represented it to be compatible with that frequency but I do not see any evidence of it and it is significantly inferior to my iPhone as a hot spot. I tried a new Huawei Cricket that is described as being band 12/700 compatible and it failed to connect at all. Amazing how hard it is to find a 4G LTE, band 12/700 modem!
Note that if you add external antennas to the B890 you have to switch the unit to use the external antennas via the web management interface. Otherwise the B890 continues to use the internal antenna. Also, if you only have one external antenna, it matters which of the two antenna jacks you use. (I don't remember which you should use with a single antenna, but that info is in the user manual).
As far as I can tell, no one is making a fully modern LTE router for the U.S. We benefit some because several Canadian mobile companies provide home internet via their cellular network, but Canadian carriers don't overlap perfectly with U.S. LTE band us (band 7 is common in Canada, and not used in the U.S., for example)/
4G Antenna Shop (4GAS.online) in the U.S. now selling the Huawei B882-66, which is very similar to the B890-66, with LTE band 12 enabled. (The link says their "antennas" page, but that's where the B882 is posted.)
They normally sell the B882 with their service plan (they are a T-Mobile reseller), but will sell it as "equipment only" if you ask. Price is $179 plus $20 shipping. Call them, or put "equipment only" in the order field if you order online.
4GAS adds an external antenna jack to the B882-66, and will include an outdoor directional antenna at no charge if you want. If the antenna is not connected the B882-66 uses its internal antenna. Other than having two antenna jacks from the factory on the B890 (which the B882 lacks) the two units appear to be almost identical - same web interface and same specifications. (Of course the cases differ.)
I've been trying to find out if a firmware update can enable LTE band 12 on the B890-66. The factory specs say that it can be sold with LTE band 12, but it depends on how the provider sets it up. Apparently no one has set up a B890 with LTE band 12 enabled. (I don't think it's a hardware issue, but I could be wrong about that.)
Thanks for that interesting information. I bought an antenna which is advertised to be compatible with the B890-66. It has 2 connectors. I did change the settings to external antenna. My speed definitely decreased.
I am only getting about 0.5 mbps with this modem, compared to about 5 with my iPhone.
The modem seller (who works for T-mobile) represented this model to be band 12/700 compatible but it seems not to be and unfortunately, that is the only frequency which we can operate at (1-2 bars LTE with an iPhone 7) where we live.
I intend to replace this Huawei with a MOFI4500-4GXeLTE-SIM4 ($299). MOFI claims this new model (SIM4) is compatible with Band 12/700 and I read a few positive reviews.
Like you, I read about a band 12 upgrade for the Huawei but was unsuccessful finding it. I see my firmware was last updated in 2013.
I hope 5G appears soon!
Supporting LTE band 12 is not a function of the B890 firmware being "up to date", but of the original provider of the hardware supporting LTE band 12. Our B890 originated with Alltel, which had no reason to support LTE band 12. (I'm guessing Huawei charged the carrier more for each LTE band which was enabled.)
I have yet to see a provider which supports LTE band 12 on the Huawei B890. Telus sells it in Canada, but without LTE band 12 support. I have not yet been able to test our Huawei B882 on an LTE band 12 connection, but I have faith that the 4G Antenna Shop know what they are selling.
You might try taking your B890 to a place which has a strong T-Mobile signal to see how it works when it's not struggling for a connection. We get a significantly faster speed than you mentioned with our B890. However, that will only prove that Huawei isn't making junk. It won't help if you need a box capable of LTE band 12.
The Mofi boxes have good reviews, but remember that they do not support cellular voice, which both the B890 and B882 do. The Mofi LTE routers are "data only". That is, they do not provide an RJ-11 jack into which you can plug a standard telephone which then works over the cellular network.
Of course the device must have the hardware to support the band. My B890 is an Alltel device. The seller of it is a T-Mobile enterprise employee and is still insisting that it supports band 12 and its visible in the management console but I looked in every menu and no where can I find it. The performance compared to my iPhone 7 is sufficient evidence for me that it doesn't.
At least the seller agreed to a return and I ordered the MOFI.
Incidentally, as voice devices, our iPhone 7's are are useless. I hear callers fine, but they cannot hear me. I have to subscribe to a landline. T-mobile investigated and claims we are in a 'level 2' zone and should have much stronger signal than we do. I can walk 300 feet away and my signal improves significantly.
I will update this thread after I have experience with the MOFI.
Hopefully 5G will be available soon and change everything.