clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

T-Mobile Doubles Down on Wi-Fi Calling, Partners With Gogo for In-Flight Texting

For its latest "un-carrier" move, T-Mobile announces new products and services to bolster poor network coverage.

Adding to an already busy week of mobile news, T-Mobile announced several moves today designed to help customers use their phones even when there’s no cellular connection, including when flying the friendly skies.

In what it dubbed the “Wi-Fi Unleashed” campaign, T-Mobile said that going forward all of its new smartphones will be enabled for Wi-Fi calling and texting. This includes the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and even its mid-range and entry-level smartphones.

The Wi-Fi calling and texting feature is just what it sounds like. It allows you to make voice calls and send and receive text messages over a Wi-Fi connection. The benefit is that if there is poor or no cell reception, you still have a way to connect with friends and family. There is no additional fee or plan required to use the feature.

The company also introduced a new product designed to help combat poor cell reception in homes and businesses, called the T-Mobile Personal CellSpot. It’s a Wi-Fi router (not a cell booster) that feature special technology to prioritize voice calls and provide HD audio quality. You can use it as your primary router or alongside your current one, and T-Mobile said it can cover a 3,000 square-foot home.

The Personal CellSpot will be available starting Sept. 17, and aside from a $25 refundable deposit, there is no cost for the device. Alternatively, you can purchase the device outright for $99. All that is required is a broadband connection and a Wi-Fi calling-enabled device.

Finally, T-Mobile announced an exclusive partnership with in-flight wireless service Gogo that will allow T-Mobile customers to send and receive unlimited text and picture messages and check visual voice mail from their phone on any Gogo-equipped domestic flight. The service begins on Sept. 17, and it’s free to all T-Mobile customers. Initially, however, it will only work on certain phone models, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5, iPhone 5s, LG G3 and HTC One. You can check T-Mobile’s website for a full list of compatible phones.

“We really feel like Wi-Fi Unleashed will radically transform the way people use their cellphones,” said T-Mobile CMO Mike Sievert in a phone interview with Re/code. “The truth is, all the carriers deal with problems of poor coverage areas. It’s been a real frustration in the wireless industry. But Wi-Fi is the most ubiquitous wireless technology, and we’re now enabling people to use it to not only make calls but to make calls from all over, including 30,000 feet in the air.”

Today’s news is the seventh “un-carrier” move for T-Mobile, and it seems to be paying off for the company. In July, the provider reported that it added 1.5 million customers in the second quarter, making it the fifth straight quarter of million-plus customers gains. Total revenue was also up five percent from the first quarter and up 15 percent from the same period last year, at $7.2 billion.

Never one to shy away from calling out his competitors, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said, “The difference between us and the traditional carriers is that they’ll do everything they can to make more money off you. We’ll do everything we can to solve your problems, and today, that’s about uniting Wi-Fi with our data strong network for unprecedented coverage.”

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.