Your Choice of Phones (for use @Home)

September 26, 2008 at 7:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Expect a much wider variety of phones that you can use with @Home in the near future.
As much as half the mobile phones sold in 2012 will support Wi-Fi (see figure from ABI Research, and Gartner forecasts similar penetration), so you will start to have this feature built into your favorite phones. T-Mobile is way ahead of the curve in offering this service and, unfortunately, there are few phones that work with it. Most subscribers desire Wi-Fi on their handset (56% of users, [Wi-Fi Alliance and Kelton Research, 2007]), but few carriers are interested in providing it, as it provides an alternative, free method for subscribers to obtain data and load content onto their phones.T-Mobile will add phones with Wi-Fi that can be used with @Home. The BlackBerry Curve is a fine phone, but it’s not for everyone.

The number of Wi-Fi handsets is expected to double every two years (50% growth per year) [ABI Resrarch, 2009].Over 50 Wi-Fi enabled phones were certified in 2Q2008, which represented a significant increase-hopefully the start of a larger wave of devices. So, while your choices in mobile phones (and routers) are very limited today for Voice over Wi-Fi, you should have a lot of choice in a year or two.

”]500 Million Wi-Fi Phones Sold in 2012 [ABI Research]

In addition to Wi-Fi, an @Home handset also needs to support UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access), the service that allows the phone to connect to the mobile operator’s network over the Wi-Fi connection. So, unfortunately, just any Wi-Fi capable GSM phone will not do. For a complete list of @Home phones, please see the list, below:

@Home Compatible Phones: (as of 20 October 2008)

  • BlackBerry 8900 (“Javelin”) Curve update
  • BlackBerry 8320 Curve
  • BlackBerry 8820
  • BlackBerry 8120 Pearl
  • BlackBerry 8220 Pearl flip
  • Nokia 6301
  • Samsung Katalyst
  • Samsung T339
  • Samsung T409  (initial Hotspot @Home flip phone, no longer sold by T-Mobile)
  • Nokia 6086       (initial Hotspot @Home flip phone, no longer sold by T-Mobile)
  • NOT an unlocked GSM phone that includes UMA and Wi-Fi
    Technically possible, but in practice impossible. Only T-Mobile approved handsets will work, due to the tight connection of an approved app on the handset. I’m all for buying the (unlocked) handset that you want and running it on the network of your choice, but (as with the iPhone), this means that tightly coupled features will be lost.
  • NOT your (Wi-Fi-enabled) T-Mobile Dash or T-Mobile Wing,
    since they do not support the necessary UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) client that works with @Home service.

Soon you will be able to readily identify devices that support Voice over Wi-Fi (like your @Home router) for personal use. The Wi-Fi Alliance is planing to certify devices in 2009, much as they currently certify devices for their support of other standards, such as faster speed (IEEE 802.11g and n). If you want to know more, please see the nice summary that Wirevoltion.com provided here.

COnsumers readily identify key features thanks to Wi-Fi Certification labels

Wi-Fi Certification labels

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4 Comments »

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  1. Do you know if a unlocked Blackberry Storm can/will offer the T Mobile@ Home feature?

    • Answer: No, because the Storm lacks Wi-Fi, and therefore could never support free, in-home use (compatible handsets use a UMA software client ovr Wi-Fi to connect to T-Mobile’s @Home service for free voice/data connections). There’s more on this in my blog (you can search for UMA or other keywords to grab the specific buts of interest). So, to be clear, you could get @Home and install it in your home, but the BB Storm will never be able to be used for free calling as part of the service; you’d have to choose another phone. Please see this list of phones that are compatible with @Home: http://imcellular.org/2008/09/26/your-choice-of-phones-for-use-home/

      If you purchase an unlocked phone, then to use the phone with @Home you simply need to get the latest software for that device (which will contain the UMA software that you need on your phone to access T-Mobile @Home). You can get this online from T-Mobile (or from selected handset vendors, such as, BlackBerry) and update your handset from your PC—I just upgraded my BlackBerry 8320 to the latest BlackBerry OS release 4.5 and it worked beautifully. The BlackBerry softwre update software even automatically backed up and restored everything. And I mean everything: old SMSs, bookmarks, numbers dialed … the lot.

  2. You need to add the Samsung Katalyst to the list above.

    I appreciate this list because T-Mobile does not do a good a job of making this information available. Does anyone know if there is a more updated list somewhere, or if T-Mobile maintains one?

  3. @Seth: T-Mobile does maintain a list of compatible handsets on its website (but it is often out of date): just click on Phones and under “Shop By Feature,” select “Unlimited Hotspot Calling” and voila!

    Sadly, the T-Mobile website has some severe shortcomings:

    Out Of Date
    Currently, for example, the new BlackBerry 8900 is compatible
    but is not shown as having the capability of working with
    HotSpot@Home or T-Mobile @Home service.

    T-Mobile @Home handsets not listed
    Strangely, no handsets are listed as compatible with T-Mobile
    @Home service, but they are listed for the older service,
    Hotspot@Home. Both services use the same handset capabilities
    UMA over Wi-Fi, so each handset having these features should
    be listed under both categories. Sadly, this may leave many
    customers wondering what, if any, handsets can be used with
    @Home service.


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