Wi-Fi

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.

Chris Torres
Chris Torres

I thought that i would share my current configuration with everyone. The location that i live in does not offer any type of broadband internet other than DSL. Aside from my Verizon cell phone (which i would be lost without!) I use Packet 8 VoIP service. Now, im sure it sounds silly to have VoIP on a DSL connection which requires a land line phone anyways, but it actually works out great for me. Let me explain my configuration a little better: 1) Embarq Phone: To deliver the DSL and i use the $7 a month land line service for my fax service (Which does not work well through VoIP!) ($7.00 for the line itself plus tax) 2) Embarq DSL: 5 Mb download and 1 MB upload (business account for higher upload to run webservers) ($49.95 a month) 3) Packet 8 VoIP service: My personal choice in VoIP. They have excellent service, great clear connections, and very rarely do i experience an outage with the service. They were at one point the least expensive VoIP service that i found but they have since raised the price to match more competitive brands. ($24.95 a month) 4) Verizon Cell phone: Not much to say other than its a cell phone and its my only source for communications outside my home or office. ($79.95 a month) As you can see my configuration may not be the most economical way of doing things but it fits my needs almost perfectly. If i was to switch to the T-Mobile and WiFi service i could possibly lower some costs by utilizing more of my internet connection for making calls thus lowering the actual amount of talk time i need on my plan per month. If i moved to a location with cable i could lower the cost again by combining my TV and Internet on a single Cable bill which would eliminate the need for a land line phone. The only thing i would still need to figure out in that scenario is my fax line. I could possibly opt to try a fax to email service or some other type of internet faxing. If it wasn't for my location i could get rid of my land line phone altogether and combine other services to eventually lower my costs. This may be the largest reason why most people are not willing to give up a land line phone service is its simply not possible.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

How much money are you saving? How much did local and LD phone service average monthly when you were on land line, and how much is your monthly Verizon bill? How much is your internet connection? (I'm assuming some form of broadband for Skype.) I'll understand if you consider your monthly expenses none of my business.

VASYA
VASYA

T-Mobile Hotspot is a complete rippoff! They designed their month to month unlimited service to make it easy for T-Mobile to fraudulently bill you on a continuous basis after you have terminated the account. Unfortunately, even when you inform them that they are to cancel and not resume beyond the month, it falls upon deaf ears and they continue to bill you. If you have it on a bank card, the crooks at T-Mobile think they have it made because the bank automatically pays the charges. In fact, T-Mobile will keep billing your bank card and this nonsense is very hard to stop. There ought to be a law prohibiting such unethical billing schemes. If someone wants to have repeated periodic billing, it should have to be affirmatively requested, and not be the default. It is far too convenient for T-Mobile to say, we didn't know you canceled and continue to rip you off. ie: steal your money; bill for services not rendered; bill you for services never utilized; bill for services never requested; bill for services never authorized. As it stands right now they have charged me for over $200.00 in services I never received. Since I overlooked the charges in my statement until this month when the automated larceny hit it has over drafted my account for over $100.00 plus another $70.00 in overdraft charges. This is 100% felony fraud!

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

when one disaster or another takes down the electric for days on end. As noted, batteries run down and battery powered handsets and cell phones don't work when the battery is dead. I also have a couple of clients who still use dialup for Internet. I have to test their dialup before I send their machines back to them. We will maintain a [mostly unused] landline for our duration on the planet.

matt.stratfold
matt.stratfold

I'd be happy to drop my landline if I didn't need it for my ADSL broadband connection - needed to place the VoIP calls.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm one of those Luddites who has only a land line. No cell, no VOIP, no WiFi. My first reason is simply the cost of cellular service. My wife and I make few telephone calls. The monthly bill for our local telephone service is $26 US. Our long distance bill averages around $10; usually less than a couple of hours of calls. There may be wireless plans for less than $36 a month but I'd have to keep the $26 local service for my dial-up ISP. That's the second reason - $16 dial-up internet access. Dial-up is perfectly adequate for my non-multimedia web surfing needs. So I can keep my land line and pay $52 a month for local, long distance, and internet; or I can drop it and pay about that for the most basic cell phone plan, and almost that much again for DSL (or much more for cable internet service). The (at least) doubled cost doesn't provide me anything I need. No worries about recharging or dead batteries, no looking for the darn thing, no problem if the electricity fails, no wondering how many minutes I've got left this month, no counting the days until my contract is up. I also don't like the size of cell phones. I realize everyone else likes then small and slim, but I want a device I can wrap my hand around like a conventional land line hand set. I hate the idea of having to grip a cell phone with the tips of my fingers. I want big honkin' buttons I don't need a stylus to push. If I drop it the replacement cost is going be several times more than replacing my land line telephone. I don't want to pay for hardware and features I'm not going to use. I don't want send messages with my phone, surf the web or play games on a 2" screen, listen to music, take pictures, have a message storage area, find my location, slice a tin can, remove stains, or make thousands of julienne fries in just seconds. All I want to do is make a telephone call. I realize most cell users want more than that and that I don't have to use them if I don't want to. But I would still be paying for them whether I used them or not. TANSTAAFL. Cheap so-and-so, ain't I?

rgathercoal
rgathercoal

I'm a Verizon subscriber and have recently switched to FiOS (fiber optic). I understand the implementation is rather spotty (and their customer service is covered by 3rd- or 4th-string players) but the service does seem to work without a landline. I'm looking at it from the other direction. I've now got FiOS (4down/2up) but am not sure how/whether I could integrate my cell phones.

grax
grax

"Cheap so-and-so, ain't I?" I always say that about you - sorry, couldn't resist. In France, several operators offer a similar VOIP service but without the Wi-Fi. It's actually cheaper because one doesn't have to pay a line rental to France Telecom (?15/month). I know several people who've switched because of the cost saving. However, every one of them has experienced poor reception and an intermittent service. Only last week three of my acquaintances lost their telephone services completely. It was odd because they use different providers. One came to me and asked if I would telephone his provider. My telephone works and I speak the language. I was told that the server was down! It appears that all these providers use one server - no wonder it's cheaper. But it ain't for me.

Chris Torres
Chris Torres

Congrats on your new FiOS connection! It will be a long time before i see that type of connection around here. As far as your cell phones go, it would depend on what carrier they are from. If they are verizon as well you will have to wait until they integrate a VoIP solution into them much like TMobiles @home service. If you have a need for VoIP service to save you time on your cell phones, you can integrate VoIP to your internet connection right now. I personally like Packet 8 VoIP. Ive been using them for over 3 years now. http://packet8.net - For around $30 a month for the residential service you can contact anywhere in the US and some other countries with unlimited talk time. Your internet connection is more than enough to run VoIP service with the FiOS service.

grax
grax

I'm almost old enough to be one which is why my hearing is impaired. That's a good enough reason not to use these crappy 'phones. The other reason is as previously stated: I can send signals from my cave when your fire has gone out!

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