Networking

T-Mobile wants to replace your landline with its HotSpot @Home Wi-Fi service


Around the same time Apple was shaking up the mobile market with the iPhone launch, T-Mobile announced its plan to merge Wi-Fi and cellular communications. T-Mobile's HotSpot @Home service will allow customers to place VoIP and cellular calls from a single mobile phone.

To use T-Mobile's HotSpot @Home service, you need a broadband connection, a wireless router, and one of two phones designed for the HotSpot @Home service. When you're within range of your home's Wi-Fi network or a T-Mobile HotSpot, all incoming and outgoing calls are placed using the phone's wireless VoIP-like technology. If you travel out of the Wi-Fi area, the phone automatically transfers your call to T-Mobile's GSM/GPRS/EDGE wireless network. Likewise, if you start a call on T-Mobile's cellular network and travel into a T-Mobile Wi-Fi HotSpot, the call will move with you. The transition is seamless. Unless you watch the phone during the process, you won't notice the switch.

T-Mobile's HotSpot @Home service uses Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology to bridge the Wi-Fi and cellular network. You can learn more about how UMA works and which companies are exploring this technology at Umatoday.com.

Two phones are currently available for the HotSpot @Home service; the Samsung T409 and Nokia 6086. Each phone costs $49.99 with a two-year contract. T-Mobile offers a preconfigured Linksys WRT54G or D-Link DI-524 wireless router--free with a rebate when you sign up for the program. You can also use your existing 802.11 b/g wireless router. You'll need to purchase a regular T-Mobile service plan in addition to the HotSpot @Home service, which costs $9.99 a month for a single line or $19.99 for a family plan.

HotSpot @Home subscribes get unlimited nationwide calling when the calls originate from a Wi-Fi network. If the call originates from the cellular network, the talk time applies to the T-Mobile service plan's minutes. So, when you place a call while driving home, be sure to hang up and call back once you arrive. Otherwise, you'll be using your plan minutes even though you're talking on your Wi-Fi network.

14 comments
mertzgang30
mertzgang30

It seems a couple of the important factors with having a cell phone as a replacement for your landline is the battery time (have teenagers) and the phone design itself. Some of these cell phones are not very comfortable to use for a very long time and because they are so small you can't rest them on your shoulder if you need to use both hands for something else..., just my opinions. DON

dirtylaundry
dirtylaundry

I've been using my verizon cell phone and Skype (found at skype.com) for over 2 yrs now with no land line and have saved a ton of money. It's been wonderful. It's also without that awful echo or muffled sound I've heard when people use Optimum IO triple advantage with phone option.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

T-Mobile's HotSpot @Home service let's you make unlimited calls from your home's Wi-Fi network and T-Mobile HotSpots on your cellular phone. In a poll attached to Chris Torres' Mobile and Wireless blog entry on this technology (http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/wireless/?p=123), most respondents have indicated they would be very likely to drop their landline for such a system or they already have. Personally, I really like the idea of having a single telephone number and device that I can use everywhere. But, I have serious reservations about giving up my landline. First, I have multiple handsets throughout my house. T-Mobile's solution would require me to make all calls from a single device. How do I make a call when the battery goes dead? Second, it's just so convenient to pick up a landline and know the dial tone will be there. Sure, sometimes service gets interrupted, but it?s usually pretty reliable. My experience with cellular service is not so rosy. Dropped calls and static-filled connections are just par for the course with cell phones. Third, Enhanced 911 services, which allow emergency services (police, fire, EMS) to physically locate a cellular device, aren't extremely accurate or available in all areas--even a decade after the FCC mandated carriers provide E911 capabilities to 95 percent of subscribers. These are just my reasons. I'd like to know why other TechRepublic members aren't ready to switch.

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