*Translation (It has NO idea how to do it!)
DAVID POGUE said in last week's NY Times
But hard to believe though it may be, T-Mobile did make an announcement last week. And even harder to believe, its new product may be as game-changing as Apple's Iphone. Called, T-Mobile HotSpot @Home, and it’s absolutely ingenious. It could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year, and yet enrich T-Mobile at the same time.
So, you pay $10 a month (normally $20/$30 month) on top of a regular T-Mobile voice plan, you get a special (VOIP) cellphone. When you’re out and about, it works like any other phone; calls eat up your monthly minutes as usual.
But when it’s in a Wi-Fi wireless Internet hot spot, this phone offers a huge bargain: all your calls are free. You use it and dial it the same as always — you still get call hold, caller ID, three-way calling and all the other features — but now your voice is carried by the Internet rather than the cellular airwaves.
These phones hand off your calls from Wi-Fi network to cell network seamlessly and automatically, without a single crackle or pop to punctuate the switch. As you walk out of a hot spot, fewer and fewer Wi-Fi signal bars appear on the screen, until — blink! — the T-Mobile network bars replace them.
O.K., but how often are you in a Wi-Fi hot spot? With this plan, about 14 hours a day. T-Mobile gives you a wireless router (transmitter) for your house (Free after a rebate).
These (VOIP/Cell) phones work with any Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) router, including one you may already have. But T-Mobile’s routers, manufactured by D-Link and Linksys, have three advantages.
4 ways this program might save for YOU
- First, you turn on the router’s encryption — to keep neighbors off your network — by pressing one button, rather than having to fool with passwords.
- Second, these routers give priority to calls, so that computer downloads won’t degrade your call quality.
- Third, T-Mobile’s routers greatly extend the phone’s battery life.
- It’s not just your calls at home that are free;
- you may also get free calls at your office, friends’ houses, library, coffee shops and so on — wherever Wi-Fi is available. You can access both unprotected and password-protected Wi-Fi networks (you just enter the password on the phone’s keypad).
- The phone has a built-in Search for Networks feature. Once you select a wireless network, the phone memorizes it. The next time you’re in that hot spot, you’re connected silently and automatically. THIS includes the 8,500 T-Mobile’s hot spots at Starbucks, Borders and other public places. In these places you encounter neither the fee nor the Web-page sign-in that you would encounter if you were using a laptop; the words “T-Mobile Hot Spot” simply appear at the top of your screen, and you can start making free calls.
- SAVING NO. 2 T-Mobile’s billing system isn’t smart enough to notice handoffs between Wi-Fi and cellular networks. So each call is billed according to where it begins. IE, VOIP calls are free, even if you drive off, into T-mobile-land
- SAVING NO. 3 When you’re in a hot spot, T-Mobile has no idea where you are in the world. You could be in Des Moines, Denmark or Djibouti. So this is a big one for travelers: When you’re in a hot spot overseas, all calls to United States numbers are free. (Doesn't apply to me very often!)
- SAVING NO. 4 T-Mobile’s hope is that you’ll cancel your home phone line altogether. You’ll be all cellphone, all the time. And why not, since you’ll now get great cell reception at home and have only one phone number and voicemail? Ka-ching: there’s an additional $500 a year saved.
SO? One thing Pogue doesn't mention is that in order to take care of this the RIGHT way, you need to enable VOIP management on your PCs too. (yet another service to enable!)
I have t-mobile. I may do this in a few month...