4G LTE CellSpot at work

jeepguy25

    Hi all.  I just joined T-Mobile last weekend.  So far so good!  Service is a bit spotty here and there, but not bad.  My office was really bad though.  I was using a borrowed Iphone 6 and it was terrible.  When my new OnePlus 5t came in, it was better but still dropped calls. 

     

    I talked to customer service, and they sent me a CellSpot.  This thing is great! I get full signal in my entire building.  Heck even my signal standing outside is full where it used to be a two bars.

     

    Anyway, my question is this.  Since this unit is hooked to my company's internet, what exactly is being transferred over the connection.  For instance, with my WiFi turned off, if I go onto my facebook app, or I check amazon, can my company or my company's ISP see that activity?  Or is it all contained to the T-Mobile network?

     

    Basically, since the antenna brings the outdoor signal to the "mini-tower", and the "mini-tower" broadcasts it in the building, what is happening on the internet connection?  I dont do anything shady while Im at work, I just want to make sure the occasional notification or look online isnt making it look like Im goofing off all day.  Or opening me up to personal data/privacy issues.

     

    I did ask via messenger, and the rep was very nice and told me that all activity stays on the T-Mobile network...but Im still curious as to whats being sent over the internet, and to double check. 

     

    Thanks!

     

    Justin

      All replies

      • snn555

        Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

        Anything that is sent to or from a device on any network can potentially be viewed elsewhere. However the Internet connection is taking part of the load off of the wireless network so if I believe correctly information is going back and forth from the ISP.

        • tmo_mike_c

          Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

          Hi there and thanks for posting. This is a really good question. Some information is collected, but it's more along the lines of info related to your service. For some specifics on this, you should definitely take a look at our Privacy Policy & Personal Information | T-Mobile page. It has more details about what's collected and how it's collected. Please take a peek at that page when you get the chance.

          • jeepguy25

            Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

            Hey thanks for the feedback.  I did check out the privacy policy, but I didnt see anything pertaining to the CellSpot specifically.  I certainly know that anything I do on my phone can be seen by T-Mobile.  And anything I do while on WiFi on my phone can be seen by the ISP. 

             

            I was just unclear on what type of data was being sent through my ISP while using the CellSpot.  I assumed this unit was just pulling in the signal from outside and rebroadcasting it inside.  I would figure that the data moved across the Ethernet connection would be pretty minimal. 

              • tmo_mike_c

                Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                Ah, I see what you mean. Sorry about that. That link is more for what data we collect when you're using our network. As for your ISP, that might be a better question for them to answer themselves if they don't have something posted on their company website that discusses what data is collected.

                  • jeepguy25

                    Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                    Yeah that was going to be my next step.  Just ask IT to look at the data transferred on that line.  I really dont see why things like website data would be visible to the ISP while using the CellSpot.  But i also dont understand why the CellSpot needs internet beyond getting updates for itself.  So who knows.

                • tmo_mike_c

                  Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                  Hey, I think contact IT is definitely worth a shot. As for the CellSpot device, it uses your own internet connection to give you 4G LTE service, so it's required in order to make the device work. It's an alternative for folks either can't use or don't have a router or signal booster. Another perk for the Cellspot is that it doesn't require that you have a Wi-Fi capable device like a router does. I know it's super uncommon to come across a phone that doesn't have Wi-Fi capability but still, it's worth mentioning.

                    • jeepguy25

                      Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                      So if its using the internet to give the 4G signal, what is the antenna that I put on the window for?  Its not acting as a repeater in this case? 

                       

                      I will see if IT can check the line...Ill post back in here just for anyone else that's curious. 

                    • tmo_mike_c

                      Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                      It's the 4G LTE Signal Booster that has the window unit and acts as a repeater. That device wouldn't require landline internet. The 4G LTE CellSpot V1 does but there isn't a window unit for that one. It's a single device. Sorry if my reply was caused any confusion.

                      • jeepguy25

                        Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                        Hi Mike,

                         

                        SO the unit I have is a 4G LTE CellSpot.  It has internet, AND it has an antenna that I was required to put on a window that got at least two bars of service while standing near it.

                         

                        I also just did a test and pulled the ethernet cable from the unit, and my signal went back to what it was before installation.  So you were correct, it is in fact pulling all its signal from the internet.  What is the window antenna for then?  GPS?  Why would it need GPS? 

                         

                        I asked my IT department to dig into what the thing is doing on our ISP.  They'll get back to me.  But...I have a theory.  We use sonic wall here to block things like facebook and certain other genres of sites.  While on WiFi, I cant get facebook updates, or messenger messages.  While off WiFi, using the Cell Spot, I can get everything, no problem.  So its not pulling the data directly through the ISP because it would have to go through the SonicWall. 

                         

                        Just for fun I did some speed tests.  Here is my native speed.  This was just after unplugging the CellSpot.  Notice the signal meter hasnt gone down yet.  It did right after I took the snapshot.  I verified it three times, this was the best of the three. 

                        Screenshot_20171205-070633__01.jpg

                         

                        Here is just after plugging the internet cable back into the CellSpot, and the lights turning solid green.  Which took a while I might add. 

                         

                        Screenshot_20171205-071148__01.jpg

                         

                        That thing is amazing haha.  It confuses me how it works...but its amazing!

                         

                        Justin

                          • tmo_mike_c

                            Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                            Thanks for sharing your speed results jeepguy25 and I do hope it's working well for you. Window antenna is used for the initial setup to use GPS to locate where you are. This is mainly used for emergency services so they can find you if you ever have to call 911. As for the data being used, this could be coming from apps auto-syncing in the background. For example, emails and app updates might be a possible cause of the data traffic. That's just a theory of mine, but I'm curious to see what you and your IT team find after doing some testing, so please keep us updated on this.

                          • jeepguy25

                            Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                            FYI just talked to my IT department.  He was able to find the device on the network, but it was kind of strange how it has itself situated.  It gave itself a computer name, or the line Im using kept an older computer name, which is odd.

                             

                            But in any case, its using a fairly large amount of data, considering Im not actually doing much on the phone.  From what he can tell, there are a ton of packets being received/sent, but none of them seem to be actual website data or anything traceable.  Or at least, someone would have to put way more time than it would be worth to find anything on the data stream. 

                             

                            So we're doing a test.  This week, since I havent really done much on the phone, we are going to see what it does over the course of the week.  Next week, I will let some netflix movies stream for a few hours while the phone is sitting on my desk.  If the data stream doesnt seem to change, then the unit is literally just pulling what it needs to provide me with a signal, and all the actual data is on the T-Mobile network.  If the data spikes, then its certainly weighing on our network. 

                             

                            This is kind of fun haha.

                             

                            Justin

                            1 of 1 people found this helpful
                              • magenta1322985

                                Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                                The T Mobile 4GLTE cell spot uses  he customer's internet bandwidth without permission nor compensation (Mine internet costs over $100 month) - so a billion-dollar corporation, with poor service coverage (so bad the big box store wireless kiosks in the area do not even offer TMobile, just ATT and Verizon)

                                 

                                as T Mobile refuses to put up enough cell towers or other cell spots in bad coverage areas -- and now, to resolve the complaints -- wants to use the customers internet services to route their (A) cell calls and (B) data through the internet --, sorta like wifi calling (if I wanted wifi calling Comcast just came out with WiFI calling for what $12 GB? I pay big money monthly for cell service, not wifit (already have wifi at home)....errrr.

                                 

                                Come on T Mobile, lets get some distributed antennas up in low coverage areas !!!

                                 

                                M

                                  • jeepguy25

                                    Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                                    Um....I have no issue with cell coverage in my area.  I get almost full signal outside.  Its my building.  I got coverage, but not as good as I wanted.  So they offered me the cell spot. 

                                     

                                    For the record, I had issues with ATT, and people with Verizon dont do a WHOLE lot better.  Im completely happy with my coverage in any other situation, other than while Im in my office building.  The office building next door is better...Couldnt tell you why this one is so bad. 

                                     

                                    I understand that some areas are still in poor coverage.  But They have made big moves to try to get those areas covered.  There are also areas where those other guys dont have towers.  Thats not the point of this thread

                                • tmo_marissa

                                  Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                                  Hey, jeepguy25! I know it's been about a week since you and your IT dept joined sleuthing forces -- how did things go?

                                  • jeepguy25

                                    Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                                    There are no new developments here.  I plan to do some testing with streaming HD video while on 4G to see if there is a spike in data usage over the ISP. 

                                     

                                    I will def report back... Im just busy with end of year stuff here at work so I havent had a chance to experiment further

                                    • jeepguy25

                                      Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                                      Well I have some more data.

                                       

                                      I have used my phone normally for a while now, and we have been watching the amount of data passed over our ISP.  Its...a lot.  Today, I streamed 30 minutes of Netflix, with the app set to show highest quality. 

                                       

                                      What this showed, was an increase in data transfer, that matched what I would expect for data usage.  In other words, over the course of 30 minutes, just running Netflix, it added 18.5 mb of TX data packets, and 217.3 mb of RX data packets. 

                                       

                                      I think its pretty conclusive that the CellSpot is using lots of bandwidth.  Its passing packets equal to the amount of data that you are actually sending/receiving.  This is somewhat disappointing.  I am working with IT to now see if they can figure out what the data is.  So, can they see the activity, see the websites, see the account data etc.  Or if its just random encoded data packets.  If they can see what the data is, that is a massive security issue.  MASSIVE. 

                                       

                                      In the mean time, I almost want to try an extender.  I'm slightly irritated that I spent so much time routing the wire for the GPS antenna, thinking it was actually pulling in signal.  Since they say put it near a window where you get 2+ bars of signal, I assumed that's what it was pulling in.  In fact, I think they just assume if you get 2 bars, you'll get decent GPS coverage.  That's a lot of installation work for something that isn't actually doing anything. 

                                       

                                      Now that I understand how this unit works, I wish I would have pushed for a the extender/repeater, instead of this one.  It works GREAT.  My cell signal is through the roof.  But so is my ISP usage, and exposure, and install time, etc etc. 

                                       

                                      Justin

                                        • jeepguy25

                                          Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                                          A little more input.  IT got back to us, and basically broke down how he thought the CellSpot was achieving its goals.  Basically its turning our ISP service into connectivity for my phone.

                                           

                                          He mentions that the tunnel being used is most likely heavily encrypted.  Our sonic wall wont make much sense of the data.  So, that should mean that all data transferred is safe, and is no different than if I were using my phone outside of the cell spot range. 

                                           

                                          That makes me feel better about the security.  Still feel some kind of way about the amount of data that it uses on the ISP, but as long as no one cares here at work, then I guess its fine. 

                                            • tmo_marissa

                                              Re: 4G LTE CellSpot at work

                                              Thanks so much for doing all of this legwork and coming back to report.


                                              If the data usage isn't too taxing for you, then it sounds like the CellSpot is still an OK fit for you (especially glad to read your IT dept's read on the security piece). That said, if you have one or two bars of 3G/4G/LTE near a window, and you decide at any point that you'd prefer an alternative coverage solution, you can Contact Us to get a label to return the CellSpot and have a 4G LTE Signal Booster Duo shipped out to you instead!

                                               

                                              Honestly, we just want you to have whichever option is going to work best for you and any colleagues you have who might also be able to take advantage of it. In the meantime, I'm super glad you were able to get to the bottom of this; and thanks again for sharing everything here! This could really come in handy for another user someday; so it's super appreciated.

                                               

                                              - Marissa