My experience with the new T-Mobile Home Internet (NOK5G21)

  • 20 January 2021
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I have always used my T-Mobile router (ASUS) and T-Link modem with Spectrum service,  Speed has always been a solid 230Mbps down and 12Mbps up.  Very stable and never had any issues.  Works perfect.  Zero complaints.  Port forwarding in the router is perfect.

I haver decided to cut some costs and consolidate bill payees.  I realized that TMO speeds via 4G LTE will be no where as good as spectrum, but OK with me, whereas I don’t use heavy bandwidth.  In addition, I know that 5G is on the way, thus performance would get better over time.

Let’s get to the point:

Got the router and was able to easily set it up via the the user interface (laptop connection)- 192.168.12.1.  No need for the mobile app.  BTW:, when you power up for first time, TMO pushes a new firmware update.  I was surprised by the very limited options in the user interface.  Only has wifi settings - nothing else.  I guess it is this way to make it very easy for users to connect.  For advanced users, a big disappointment.  (i.e. no port forward, extra security..etc).

Anyhow, setup my SSID on both 2.4/5Ghz and set new passkeys.  Connection to these SSIDs is somewhat of a problem.  It was a battle getting all my home devices connected to the router.  Was able to add several devices to the 2.4Ghz SSID, then all of a sudden, attempts to add more devices kept failing - unable to connect.  Long story short, i had to reboot the reboot the router each time this happened.  The router seems to get hung up when adding new devices back-back.  In the end, was able to get all devices connected  (i.e. garage door opener, sprinkler controller, lightbulbs..etc).  whew!!!

Next, as far as speeds on the 2.4Ghz wifi, performance was miserable.  Multiple laptops would get between 5Mbps - 20Mbps on down/ and maybe 5Mbps up.  With wifi connections to my other ISP, it was 230 down/12 up.  So, unable to get the Tmobile router to give better performance, I now use the 5Ghz wifi for my laptops.  Much cleaner now.  50Mbps down/20Mbps up.  I have to leave my legacy wifi devices on the 2.4Ghz network.

I don’t see any performance issues when I use my Playstation (wifi).  COD MW2 runs fine.

Another problem I see is that on the 5Ghz network, both SSID5 and SSID9 have the same SSID name.  SSID9 should have been labeled SSIS_9.

Next, there may be a bug with hiding the SSIFD from broadcast.  There are two option:  Enable SSID and Enable Broadcast.  I never broadcast my SSIDs with my ASUS router.  On the TMO (nok5g21)router, when I disable the broadcast, all devices lost connections.  I played with this many times between both settings, but still lose connections to all devices.  So, I can’t seem to hide it now.  Oh well.

Another problem:  I use my work laptop / GlobalProtect VPN service.  All is OK, but there are several websites within the company that I can not get to.  If I instead connect thru my Spectrum ISP, no issues.  However, I found a workaround for the sites I can’t access via Tmobile service though. 

Now, the biggest problem, which I now see from this forum is a problem all are seeing.  Rebooting the router causes all Wifi settings to go back to default.  Can you believe that???  Even with the “”backup battery”” in the router, you are not protected at all.  I do use a UPS at home, but still., a backup battery does not protect the system.  Unbelievable.  I called TMO support about this an das expected, they have never heard of this problem.????.  BTW:  haven’t received much help from TMO support, whereas all this network stuff may be a bit technical for them.

So, after two days of battling these issues myself, I am able to get a stable setup.  With only 2 - 3 bars on the 4G LTE meter, I get reasonable speeds.  It may be a month or two before I see 5G upgrade.  I think I will keep the TMO service due to lower monthly cost  (65.00 with Spectrum) and just wait for fixes/upgrades from TMO. If all else fails, I can always go back to Spectrum, whereas they will see you as a newer customer and give you the lower monthly costs for being a “new” customer.

Anyhow, thought I would just pass along this information in case others have same experiences.


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Your experience and expectations are very similar to mine, along with the cost savings (Xfinity $80).

Also not happy with the lack of config changes, but will deal with it for now. And like you, can always go back to Xfinity. No idea when 5G will be enabled for my router. 5G is available, but router is using LTE.

I get 40 Mbps down, and around 10 Mbps up. Fine with that for now. Will give TMOB time to get their stuff together on this. As long as everything works for streaming, VPN access to work, and speed is reasonable, I’m ok. Nothing to write home about though. Enjoy saving $30/month.

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Glad to know that others have same scenario.

Couple updates since my post:​​​​​​

On several occasions,  all my wifi devices lost connectivity at the same time.  I suspected that the router froze, so I just powered off the router (press button) and then pulled the power plug.  Powered back up and devices all connected again.  So yes, it froze for an unknown reason. At night time (non busy times), I get a clean/consistent 120 down / 25 up via wifi.  Not bad at all.  Day time performance not so great, but livable.  Personal laptop with ProtonVPN works fine (at least for what I use it for),

 

For now, I no longer use custom SSID/Keys.  I keep it at default because I am tired of reprogramming the wifi settings after a router reboot causes all settings to go back to default. Now, when the router reboots, default settings stay the same.  I always watch the router firmware version (via GUI) to see if TMO silently sends a new firmware package.  (bug fixes..etc).

 

Since I already know about the nuances about this router and how to get around them, I will stick with TMO.  TMO support has not been helpful in any of these issues.  I understand, they are probably new people, thus networking not their skill.

Incredible that Nokia/TMO released this router with these obvious problems.  But I guess they needed to release a product to get service up/running and fix later.

 

BTW:  I will have to add a 40.00 UPS to this router to prevent router downtime since we can’t trust the battery.  

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@rich982 

thank you for sharing that info.  Seems like the trend is to dumb down the systems involved.  Most outfits (google fi, gmail, the telcos in general, many companies) are no longer in the business of providing true technical support, any explanation of how their system works, or how to make any ‘work-around’ to get things working, when they do not have basic options available.  It is amazing that they think this is a workable policy.

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It’s setup and configured as a Tri-band router and supports WiFi6 and mesh.  Take the time to set it up so it works for your networking needs.  Take it out of auto channel selection and use the channels that work for you if you need to.  IF you use it in tri-band mode, Roku’s, your phones and most devices including WiFi6 capability will handshake and switch between the 3 bands seamlessly.  The gateway will also load level between the 5GHz low band and the 5GHz high band automatically. Be aware that the auto channel selection picks DFS channels for the 5GHz bands and ROKU's won't connect to those.

The tri-band works on having SSID1, SSID5 and SSID9 all configured to the same SSID name and encryption mode.  

SSID1 is the 2.4GHz

SSID5 is 5GHz low band

SSID9 is 5GHz high band

Use WPA2/WPA3 and AES for all 3 to avoid any issues with the auto band switching.

Note that if you use the other SSID's 2-4, 6-8, 10-12 you end up with a bunch of SSID's on the same channels and there is no guest mode or SSID isolation so pretty useless. You can turn off the individual radios but that requires every SSID to be set to enable SSID and broadcast SSID to off, all 12.

If you don't want to use it this way then pick unique SSID names for each band and connect your devices uniquely to that SSID so they don't automatically switch and potentially drop connections and hang. None of my connected devices have issues with the auto switching but yours might.

Cheers

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Losing your wifi settings when you reboot is just plain stupid. TMO needs to fix this. You also lose them if you remove the power. What's the purpose of the battery?  The circular touch screen on top is nice, but from an ergonomics standpoint it would have been better on the side especially if you have it up high on something. I have to use a mirror to see what it says or tilt it . 

 

All companies today release both hardware and software before it’s ready for primetime and then force the end user consumers to become beta testers.  This is called crowdsourcing the beta test process. It sucks. I hate being a perpetual beta tester. And not being paid for it.  I’m technically competent; most people aren’t. 

I think a year from now this will be a great product with some firmware upgrades to implement new features.

the CG-NAT that TMO uses for this device results in geo-location not working correctly. I have several streaming apps that use geo-location to provide my local channels. Now I get channels from out west while I’m east of the Mississippi.  So if you want your locals, you’re going to have to put up an OTA to get your local tv stations. TVision locals don’t even work with this. 

Speed wise It varies all over the place, anywhere from 25 to 185 download ….it just depends I guess on congestion. I have 6 towers that it will connect to all within 4K ft and I get 3 bars max.  I usually connect to b2-n71 and sometimes b66-n71…..

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Well folks, after two weeks of using the TMO Home internet service  with the NOK5G21, I have officially called it quits and went back to using my TMO Cellspot router / TP-Link modem and Spectrum service.  All is back to normal now.  Speeds at the usual  230/12, all wifi devices happy now.

I tried my best to stay with TMO service and even stayed as long as possible for TMO to acknowledge the issues, but there really isn’t much feedback from TMO support.  The continuous problems of  work VPN issues, daily/simultaneous loss of all wifi devices, download/upload speeds drop dramatically, having to powercycle wifi devices to get connected again, limited GUI functions,  and video buffering was too much of a nuisance.  I could live with some of these issues and just deal with it, but why bother at cost of 50.00 per month.

I really liked the single device hardware and all wireless capability of the NOK5G21, but it is just not ready for prime time.  Maybe OK for a small home with kids internet surfing.

I will try again next year when things get more stable.

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Just another data point.
I received my Nokia router on Monday, 2/1.

I have never had it reset the settings when I powered it off or rebooted it or unplugged it.

I setup the WiFi and passwords when I first received. Since then I have been moving it all over the house and have unplugged and rebooted many time.

 

I guess I just got lucky with this one.
 

I do get 5G from my house in San Diego. 200 to 325 down and around 25 to 35 up. Bands B66 primary and n41 secondary.

My issue with the nok5g21 is the lack of port fowarding options. I am unable to start or join party play with xbox because of this. So most likely will be leaving tmo. I want to like it as speeds are ok and connectivity with all the other items is great but how they can not support the gaming community these days is absurd. 

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It’s almost the end of March 2021, and the Nokia gateway still has the problems mentioned above. You can add me to the list of people affected by these issues at some point in time.
I really wish I had the time to configure the SSID bands to make it work optimally with my home network, but the lack of good documentation is appalling. If the web UI exposes these settings to the customer, it could at least provide some information as to what the settings are or do, but nope.

Whenever I have contacted tech support for assistance with the router, I end up with little or no help at all. I believe T-Mobile should get out of the home routing business and just provide a simple gateway to their POP. Let advanced users configure their own LAN and shape their own traffic, and partner with router manufacturers to provide support to the rest of their ISP users.

I wish people put posting date with their comments. My install was 9/18/2021, Los Angeles. Nokia 5G21 Gateway, Software v.1.2101.00.1609. There are no firmware updates later than this at present.

The Nokia 5G21 is in the center of the LR/DR up on a high shelf, no windows nearby, and the signal is near as good as at the front window with a view of the closest tower (?) a block away.

There are two signals received, the Primary 4G-LTE is the base, then Secondary 5G.  I get 5 bars  for Primary: 66dBm RSRP, 20dB SNR ;  and 4 bars for Secondary: 72dBm RSRP, 29dB SNR. Both show -11dB SRSQ. Reception might be a little better in my front window but now it’s centrally located for TV, computer and printer.

Speeds: Download is 220-380 Mbps, Up 87-110 Mbps on my Windows 10 computer.

For tablets and phones I hard-wire connected a Speedefy  Mod: K7  AC2100 DualBand Gigabit Router ($81.00 Amazon plus 75’ cable), using a cat.7 cable . I get a signal on the downstairs deck 33ft away: 120-180Mbps with only some wood between router and tablet. I get 60-110Mbps 45 ft away in the front of the apartment through a few walls with the Speedefy. (VERY simple to set-up.)

On the Nokia I can configure four SSIDs @ 2.4, which I do not understand, and one SSID for 5 Ghz. I configured a SSID-2 and the speed was down around 60 Mbps vs. 210 Mbps for SSID-1  I read there is a 5 Ghz, a 5-High or 5-Low. I don’t see any info on them either. Will keep checking on that.

My former Spectrum was $75.00/mo for 60 Mbps. When I called to cancel they offered $49.99 for 400Mbps. I am sorry they were charging so high for so long, so bye-bye! I am very happy with the new Tmobile higher speeds and less money forever. Well, until the Nokia breaks. These things do not last forever. Then what?

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