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June 25, 2007

T-Mobile's Hotspot@Home Going Nationwide This Week?

By Narayan Bhat, TMCnet Contributing Editor

According to a report on a popular website focused on the mobile phone industry, T-Mobile (News - Alert) will be rolling out its HotSpot@Home dual mode cellular/WiFi service nationwide this week.

“The Boy Genius Report says it has seen documents that suggest the launch will occur on June 27,” smartphonetoday recently reported on its website. However, T-Mobile USA is being tightlipped on the matter.

The new wireless service, which underwent trials in Seattle for longer than a year, lets T-Mobile's subscribers make free phone calls using their at-home WiFi (News - Alert) network or from any public WiFi hot spot.

Earlier, subscribers using the Nokia 6136 and the Samsung T709 dual mode phones could only place free calls over WiFi. T-Mobile has since moved to the newer Nokia 6086 and Samsung (News - Alert) t409 for HotSpot @Home.

According to news reports, T-Mobile HotSpot @Home costs $20 a month on top of your regular cell phone plan. It delivers unlimited Voice over WiFi calls from over 8,000 hotspots as well as your home through a WiFi access point.

As the service is based on Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology, it allows users seamlessly switch voice calls and data connections between a WiFi and cellular, depending on which is available and which is most cost effective at a particular moment.

Another advantage for users is that once they are in a hotspot, they gain access to a higher speed network, which allows them to download mobile content including Web pages, music files, video files, and games - much faster than they can from a 2G, or even 3G wireless networks.

The operator offers a router that is free after a mail-in rebate. The service will work with any router, however.

Unlike most VoIP services, T-Mobile HotSpot @Home has the advantage of supporting a single phone number for both cellular and WiFi phone calls.

It also promises to deliver better phone service to areas where cell phones do not work well or at all.

Analysts believe it should also prove attractive to those who prefer to do without a landline phone.

Although other carriers have offered services allowing subscribers to make free calls using their home WiFi networks, T-Mobile will be the first US carrier to roll out a nationwide network providing “seamless handoff” capabilities, with public hot spots that can be used by any of its subscribers.


Narayan Bhat is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.


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