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July 04, 2007

iPhone takes a backseat to T-Mobile's Hotspot @Home

With all the reports coming out of people figuring out ways to activate their iPhone without subscribing to AT&T, instead using Wi-Fi as the only means of staying connected (but not doing VoIP, alas), there is also the news from T-Mobile which I'm just picking up on now thanks to the Poguester.

T-Mobile's Hotspot @Home allows you to use a Wi-Fi connection to make VoIP calls for just an extra $10/month. That's unlimited calling worldwide, as long as you start the call with the Wi-Fi connection. It will shift automatically to the cellular, if the signal should strengthen. You can use your own router with your DSL service (mandatory), but the one T-Mobile supplies helps save the battery life on the cell phones that support this service.

At the moment, you have a choice of only two phones: the Nokia 6086 and Samsung t409. Both of these are small basic flip phones (both $50 after rebate and with two-year commitment). They sound terrific; over Wi-Fi, in fact, they produce the best-sounding cellphone calls you’ve ever made. But the screens are small and coarse, and the features limited. Fortunately, T-Mobile intends to bring the HotSpot @Home feature to many other phones in the coming months.

It won't work with any network that requires a login, but it works with the T-Mobile Wi-Fi service at Starbucks, Borders, and other shops.

This makes T-Mobile's network coverage competitive with other carriers such as Verizon, and it solves the main consumer complaint of not having a decent signal at home. It also lightens the traffic on the T-Mobile network without them having to make an extra investment in towers and capacity.


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