Confirmed: T-Mobile to Discontinue @Home service

January 12, 2010 at 4:33 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Update (Feb. 2010): T-Mobile confirms this (currently unofficial) rumor: @Home Service will be discontinued as soon as the current set of inventory (@Home routers) is sold, so if you like this service, go get the hardware now. T-Mobile will support existing subscribers. This removes the best wireline replacement service currently on the market in the U.S., as T-Mobile turns instead to focus on wireless-only services. Bad news for anyone that still likes to use a wireline phone (example: I use an excellnt Polycom conference phone for hours at a time in my home office).

Rumors are circulating that T-Mobile is about to discontinue their @Home service (although I have been unable to confirm this officially). Although these rumors refer to a statement made on January 7th by a T-Mobile rep, there is no official mention of it on the T-Mobile web site. Strange.  Even the purported T-Mobile statement is vague, and gives no clear reason for the change.

If true, then my interpretation is that T-Mobile is focusing less on the interim step (supporting wireline use with a VoIP product delivering small profit) and is focusing more on the destination, mobile-only use (and wireline replacement). This is consistent with the original rumor that referenced COO dislike for its lack of profitability, reported by Boy Genius in December.

This would remove an attractive alternative for some consumers that are cutting the cord, but prefer to still maintain wireline (and cordless) devices in their home. For those that are interested in eliminating their telephone and Long Distance bills, please check out the menu of options that I just reviewed.

Here are links to the rumors (and I would welcome definitive news of this, if it exists):

– RUMORS – RUMORS- RUMORS – RUMORS- RUMORS – RUMORS- RUMORS – RUMORS –

T-Mobile shuts down @Home landline replacement service
January 8, 2010 — 7:49am ET | By Sean Buckley

“T-Mobile was so confident that its @Home landline replacement service would be such a draw for consumers that when it introduced the service in July 2008 it had a commercial showing a woman cutting down phone lines with a chain saw. Cautioning consumers not to literally cut down lines, the @Home service tried to sell the idea that you could cut the phone company’s cord and get dirt cheap calling through your broadband line. But with so many new broadband VoIP options on the market, the @Home service never took off the way T-Mobile envisioned it and now it’s going to stop selling the service. T-Mobile will, however, support existing @Home customers.

The idea was simple enough. For $10 a month, a user could make unlimited local and long-distance calls by plugging a T-Mobile provided box into their respective cable or DSL broadband line. Although T-Mobile did not disclose why it’s cancelling the service, it’s likely that T-Mobile realized just as did Verizon when it canceled its Hub service last fall that its customers would just use their wireless phone instead of a new landline replacement service

– MORE RUMORS – MORE RUMORS- MORE RUMORS- MORE RUMORS- MORE RUMORS –

No One’s @Home: T-Mobile Axes Landline Replacement
01/07/2010

T-Mobile USA said Thursday it will no longer sell its @Home landline replacement service, although it will continue to support the customers already using it. The Deutsche Telekom-owned wireless service provider introduced T-Mobile@Home in July 2008; for $10 per month, the product – a box plugged into a broadband connection and landline phone – allowed subscribers to make unlimited local and long-distance calls. T-Mobile didn’t say why it’s yanking @Home, but rival Verizon Wireless last fall axed its similar offering, Hub, because customers relied on wireless services rather than the landline replacement option. It’s fair to speculate that T-Mobile’s users are following much the same patterns. T-Mobile emphasized the @Home decision does not impact the company’s Unlimited HotSpot Wi-Fi service.

– ORIGINAL RUMOR- ORIGINAL RUMOR- ORIGINAL RUMOR- ORIGINAL RUMOR-

T-Mobile to discontinue @Home service

by Kelly Hodgkins on January 7th, 2010

About a month ago, one of our tipsters hit us up to let us know that T-Mobile was probably in the process of shutting down their @Home service. The @Home service allowed T-Mobile customers to make home phone calls via a T-Mobile router connected to the internet. The @Home service was an available add-on to most wireless service plans offered by T-Mobile for a modest $10/month. Bad news for future @Home customers, though, because another circulating rumor confirms what we reported a month ago — T-Mobile has supposedly halted future investment in the @Home service. Current customers can continue to use the service and T-Mobile will continue to support it for the time being. Once the current inventory of @Home routers has been sold, T-Mobile will no longer offer this service to new customers, though. Any T-Mobile customers interested in jumping on board, should do so tout de suite.

Eliminate your phone bill & Save $1,000/year: Cut the Cord!

January 10, 2010 at 4:01 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Save $1,000 per year by eliminating your Residential and Long Distance charges!
You can get more for far less: eliminating your $70 Telephone and Long Distance bill, and obtain the same services (and unlimited use) for $10/month. I’m saving $100/month in combined savings of telephone, Long Distance, and feature charges. Which would you choose:

Follow the flow chart and see which of the following options is best for you:

Several plans exist that allow you to get more for less: maintain the same telephone service (i.e., no changes in how you use the phone or the features that you expect to receive) at a fraction (15%) of the price. You can use these plans with assurance, as these plans work, are well-reviewed, widely-available, and are mature. These services have been serving customers for 5 years, so jump in the pool! The water is fine.

What you choose depends on your preferences:

  • Fixed at home
    (“I prefer to use wireline and cordless phones when at home, and do not intend to use a mobile phone”)
  • Fixed at home & mobile away from home
    (“I prefer to use wireline and cordless phones when at home instead of my mobile phone”)
  • Mobile-only
    (“I prefer to make/receive all of my calls with my mobile phone”)

A) You prefer: Fixed at home

You just want to reduce your costs without having to change the way that you use the phone.

Your Choices: You can obtain Internet telephone service from Vonage (in the U.S.), your Cable company, and your local Telephone company, in order of increasing cost (and decreasing savings). Many folks that are considering this step will prefer to choose a trusted partner–the existing Telephone company. However comforting, obtaining a replacement service from the phone company will likely save you less. But check out the prices and see for yourself which price plans are best for you. Beware of “teaser” rates, such as $9.99/month (small print: only for the first X months, then increasing to a much higher monthly rate). This option is increasingly unattractive: since nearly everyone has a mobile phone, why not consider a choice that gives you all of these benefits as a bundle with your mobile service (next Option B)? For more information on this option, please see the excellent, recent article “Switch to Internet Calling” [Glenn Fleischman, MacWorld, October 2009]–an excerpt of his article is available online here.

Vonage, for example, offers a basic $18/month 500-minute plan. Please note that this is far inferior to the $10/month bundle that you can achieve with T-Mobile’s @Home service (described is the “Savings Example” above, and below under “Fixed at home and Mobile away”).

Note: You do not have to lose your phone number; you may keep your home phone number and “port” your number to your Internet phone (or to another service, such as Google Voice, that bridges your home phone number with one or more devices, including your mobile phone, office phone, etc.). To keep your phone number, be sure to request this when you sign up for service with your new carrier, as they will take responsibility to promptly and seamlessly make this change.

Advantages:
Average cost savings of $37/month (using FCC averages, your savings will depend on your current bill)

Disadvantages:
Obtaining telephone service from a cable/Internet company means that you are more likely to keep their service.
Potentially poorer customer service (harder to troubleshoot than keeping service from the Telco).

B) You prefer: Fixed at home & Mobile away from home

You want to keep your existing home phone number and devices (along with cordless phones and answering machines), but you also use a cell phone

Your Choices: Mobile phone companies are starting to offer this option: a bundle that replaces your wireline service, while allowing you to keep your home phone number and devices. T-Mobile offers an excellent choice (in the U.S.) that gives you every feature that you can imagine for $10/month … if you use their cellular service. That’s the catch: each of these service bundles replaces your telephone service. For more information on this option, please see the excellent, recent article “Save Cell Phone Minutes by Placing Calls over Broadband” [Glenn Fleischman, MacWorld, October 2009]–an excerpt of his article is available online here.

Note: You do not have to lose your phone number; you may keep your home phone number and “port” your number to your Internet phone , your cellular phone, or to another service, such as Google Voice, that bridges your home phone number with one or more devices, including your mobile phone. To keep your phone number, be sure to request this when you sign up for service with your new carrier, as they will take responsibility to promptly and seamlessly make this change.

Advantages:
Average cost savings of $45/month (using FCC averages, your savings will depend on your current bill)

Disadvantages:
Obtaining telephone service from a cellular company means that you are more likely to keep their service.
Potentially poorer customer service (harder to troubleshoot than keeping service from the Telco).

C) You prefer: Mobile-only

Your Choices: Mobile phone companies are starting to offer this option: an option that lets you reliably and inexpensively use your mobile phone in place of your home phone. You have options, so choose depending on your preferences:

C1: You prefer Mobile-only, and get great coverage at Home

Any mobile carrier will sell you service that includes ample minutes (allowing you to use the phone all that you want, including at home), but there are even better options (read on).

Advantages:
Average cost savings of $40/month (using FCC averages, your savings will depend on your current bill)
Choice of cellular company; if you do not like the coverage or service that you receive, you can readily change carriers.

Disadvantage:
You lose use of any cordless phones, answering machine, FAX devices in your home.

C2:  You prefer Mobile-only, and want better coverage at Home

Some mobile carriers will sell you service with an option for an in-home cell site. Really! You don’t have to be John McCain to get your own cell site (called a “femtocell”). Verizon Wireless and Sprint already offer this option, and AT&T will shortly. T-Mobile offers a different solution that lets their phones make high-quality calls over any Wi-Fi (in your home, or around the world), so it requires that you use a phone with UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) with Wi-Fi. For a more detailed comparison of the implementation costs, please see my review comparing the Sprint vs. T-Mobile solutions.

Advantages:
Average cost savings of $45/month (using FCC averages, your savings will depend on your current bill).
Choice of cellular company; if you do not like the coverage or service that you receive, you can readily change carriers.

Disadvantage:
You lose use of any cordless phones, answering machine, FAX devices in your home.
@Home service requires that you use a compatible (UMA) phone that makes calls over Wi-Fi, when possible.

C3: You prefer Mobile-only, and want unlimited, free calling at Home

Free, unlimited, at Home service

T-Mobile’s @Home service is a great deal (available in the U.S.) that gives you unlimited calling (including Long Distance calling to U.S. numbers), voice mail, three-way calling, caller ID (including Name) – a service bundle costing $50 or more from your Telco – for only $10/month. This is one smokin’ deal. (I use it in my Home Office each day).

Note: You do not have to lose your phone number; you may keep your home phone number and “port” your number to your cellular phone (or to another service, such as Google Voice, that bridges your home phone number with one or more devices, including your mobile phone). To keep your phone number, be sure to request this when you sign up for service with your new carrier, as they will take responsibility to promptly and seamlessly make this change. For more information on this option, please see the excellent, recent article “Save Cell Phone Minutes by Placing Calls over Broadband” [Glenn Fleischman, MacWorld, October 2009]–an excerpt of his article is available online here.

Advantages:
Average cost savings of $45/month (using FCC averages, your savings will depend on your current bill)
Choice of cellular company; if you do not like the coverage or service that you receive, you can readily change carriers.

Disadvantage:
You lose use of any cordless phones, answering machine, FAX devices in your home.
@Home service requires that you use a compatible (UMA) phone that makes calls over Wi-Fi, when possible.

Mobile-only is an increasingly compelling choice for nearly all consumers. Already, 25%of U.S. households have cut the cord in favor of mobile-only telephone service. For more info on this trend, see my earlier post on how and why consumers cut the cord.

P.S. This recommendation is written by a Bell Labs engineer who spent many of his early years designing and delivering the world’s best telephony service. So you can be assured that I do not make a recommendation to ditch it unless the options are clearly better. But technology moves on. In fact, AT&T recently asked the FCC “How long do we have to maintain the wireline network?” which effectively says that the wireline network is becoming obsolete and consumers will increasingly migrate away from fixed to mobile and Internet telephone service over the next few years.

Your Savings vs. Typical Savings

Your savings are best determined by your monthly bill—go grab one to determine what you are paying now and what you can actually save.

Typical Telephone charges of $43/month: The FCC reports that the average, residential telephone bill (in an urban center, in October 2007) is $43/month.

Typical Long Distance charges of $12/month: The FCC and other organizations report that the average Long Distance bill is approximately $12 (120 minutes x $0.06/minute), although this varies widely, depending on use.

Typical savings could be $540/year. A “typical” consumer would save less than I experience: an average bill is $55/month could be reduced to $10/month., yielding a savings of $45/month.

FAX & Alarm Support for T-Mobile @Home

February 19, 2009 at 4:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments
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Good news for @Home users that desire to send or receive the occasional facsimile (FAX): support for incoming and outgoing FAX is coming in YE2009 (from my friends at T-Mobile). This feature has been delayed (original target: 2Q2009) as it requires an upgrade of T-Mobile’s cellar network (scheduled for 4Q2009). Note: This is the current target delivery date, so the actual deployment may vary. I presume that this will be available for existing and new users as a firmware update to the Linksys routers (e.g., the Linksys WRT54G-TM).

Personally, I will disconnect out my last, remaining wireline service when this feature is available. I already use @Home service for my Home Office, but have held off on using it for my residential service due to my need to occasionally send or receive a FAX. When that box is checked, I’ll have completely cut the cord from my wireline service, and I will be saving over $1,000 per year (versus my previous Qwest charges for voice, long distance, and features).

It is with some remorse that I celebrate cutting the cord, since I was hired by AT&T and spent my early years, as an engineer, designing and enhancing the AT&T Bell System wireline network. Great work, but progress is relentless, and the future is mobile … and IP.

Comparing Femto vs. UMA Service: Sprint AIRAVE vs. T-Mobile @Home

November 8, 2008 at 1:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Q: What is the best solution for delivering mobile capacity in your Home/Office?

A: T-Mobile @Home has the edge

Or, technically speaking, how does a real-world exampleof UMA compare with Femtocell?
For a more general comparison of your choices for savings, please see my review of available solutions for “Cutting the Cord.” Alternatively, if  you desire to geek out on the technical details, check out my previous post on the technology alternatives that mobile operators are using to deliver service in your home/office.

femto-vs-uma-service-with-logos10

Estimate for single person subscription, two-year use.
Restriction: T-Mobile requires a 2-year service contract, Sprint has no contract requirements.

SUMMARY: @Home costs less and offers more features, but probably requires you to get a new handset(so you start out a bit further in the hole). Sprint AIRAVE could be less expensive if you only need improved indoor coverage ($5/month), but if you desire unlimited calling, it’s $15/month. I compared apples vs. apples, using unlimited calling. Sprint AIRAVE is less expensive if used only for better service coverage ($5/month), without the option of unlimited at home calling ($15/month). However, subscribers may find that unlimited in-home use can reduce their monthly bill, if they are able to revise their service plan to select a lower bundle of minutes.

Outlook: UMA will continue to be the best choice for the consumer for years. The only downside for UMA is the limited choice in phones (always a barrier for dual-mode solutions such as this, and typically a strong barrier to consumer adoption, since handset choice is a very personal thing for many users). Consumers will have a much broader choice of handsets over time, with many more UMA phones expected to be available, with as many as 50% Wi-Fi capable by 2012.

Why? Wi-Fi technology (and UMA) is already mature, so the costs are much lower. Consumer cost of the Femtocell will only slowly decline, as Femtocells become mature and start to sell in volume (In contrast, costs are already very low for the Wi-Fi + VoIP router). Operators will therefore tend to charge more to the consumer for the Femto than the comparable UMA solution.

UMA, then Femto

October 31, 2008 at 2:15 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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These are two answers to the same question:
How can mobile operators deliver network capacity and coverage in-building, at lower cost?

I like UMA near-term, and Femtocell after several years. My bet is on UMA, near-term, as the difficulties of wide-scale use of Femto appear to be quite significant-beyond the abilities of current solutions for RF planning. In the long-term, Femto may be wonderful, but only after vendors and operators figure out how to dynamically deliver new femtocells, recognize (and update) their location, as well as operate and maintain these in concert. Both solutions are available today, but UMA is proving easier to deploy while LTE has greater, long-term benefit.

Sprint AIRAVE Femtocell: Samsung Ubicell

Linksys WRTU54G-TM

T-Mobile UMA Wi-Fi Router: Linksys WRTU54G-TM

Mobile operators will soon need solutions such as UMA and Femto, as they will be pressured to deliver far greater data capacity without far greater compensation. Costs are rising faster than revenue. Several studies suggest that operators will need to deliver 100 times the data capacity, without comparable increases in revenue. Accordingly, operators will need to find innovative solutions such as radio and handset, which are their largest, areas of per-subscriber expenditure.

Both UMA and Femtocell offer considerable savings to the Mobile Operator, and some benefits for the subscriber:

uma-vs-femto-lighter

The big concern about UMA is that it is available only in selected handsets(T-Mobile offers less than 10 that are compatible with their @Home and Hotspot @Home service). Some operators (such as Orange) like UMA’s benefits so much that they are pushing for more UMA-capable handsets. To be successful, subscribers must not be penalized as a result of using a UMA service (such as @Home), so there will have to be a wide variety of handsets delivered with UMA and Wi-Fi. Getting UMA into handsets is easy, over time, but the likelihood of adding Wi-Fi in large percentages is a bet. Some forecasts show that as many as 50% of handsets could include Wi-Fi by 2012. Until those handsets are widely available, operators will have to pay for special features and handsets.

The big concern with Femto is network integration: the operator must integrate numerous, small cells placed randomly in buildings into their highly-tuned, macrocellular network. This is a formidable task, and has held up the widescale use of femtocells. Not only must the manufacturer miniaturize an existing base station (and deliver it in a form factor that the subscriber can just plug in and connect to their Internet service), but the operator then must identify the location of the cell (for 911 Emergence Services) and integrate its footprint of service with all surrounding cells. Recall that UMA does not have these formidable problems: cheap Wi-Fi routers work fine (no miniaturized GSM Base Station required), and the UMA Wi-Fi devices do not interfere with the existing cellular network, so no radio planning is required.

Data Traffic Growing Faster than Revenues
Operators expect to be stressed in the near future to deliver more data for less, as subscribers will consume far more data capacity (as all services move to IP) but they are not expected to pay much more. Thus, operators need to diminish major cost components, such as handset, radio, and backhaul. UMA and Femto are right on target to achieve this. Advanced network architectures, such as HSPA+ and LTE also promise far greater efficiency, delivering data bits for a fraction of their current cost. How fast could traffic grow? Some forecast that “The appetite for data could increase 100-fold,” [Tom Keathley, VP of Technology and Standards, “HSPA/LTE Workshop,” 2/2008] as illustrated below [3GAmericas and Rysavy Research]. Consider the recent growth examplified by the data use of iPhone subscribers, with vastly greater use of Internet, email, YouTube videos, etc. “Global mobile data revenues will increase 77% from 2007 to 2012, but global mobile data traffic will grow far faster, increasing more than 1000% over the same period.” [Informa] [see also the blog report from Mike Roberts, Principal Analyst, Informa] Operators will be squeezed, so they must find areas to reduce costs.

“]

Explosive Data Growth Forecast

UMA and Femto: A Marriage of Fixed + Mobile
It is possible that UMA and Femto create an opportunity for the fixed operators to get back in the mobility game, if only as a bit player. Check out the excellent, insghtful article by InCode, Sangit Rawlley, on how fixed operators can still benefit from this transition and complement mobile operators.

Further Reading: There’s a fine overview (by Peter Thornycroft or Aruba Networks) of Femtocells in the recent issue of Wireless Design Magazine, that reviews the technology, standards (or lack of), benefits, and barriers to deployment. FierceWireless continue to provide very good coverage of this (and other emerging technologies).

Suggestions to T-Mobile for Improvements to @Home Service

October 26, 2008 at 1:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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FAX support
It’s a valuable feature to truly replace a wireline service. Vonage has it, so it’s feasible over VoIP, although I suspect that it merely may be that UMA does not support FAX, which would explain why T-Mobile can not readily add this feature.

Latest Wi-Fi capabilities (better range)
802.11n support (better range, with compatible devices) as well as the choice of Wi-Fi frequency bands (2.4 or 5 GHz) would be nice, although you can attach your favorite Wireless router to the @Home router and get the benefits of both, but a single device that is current is a better solution.

Web portal
Some customers desire the ability to manage Call Forward/Call No-Answer settings from a web site, instead of using feature codes that must be entered from the wireline phone. This would undoubtedly make the service more complex and would be of value only to a select audience (not the mainstream). This feature (and others) could be added without complicating the standard setup and use; give the power to those that are ready to use it. Actually, T-Mobile could use this method – a web portal – to add new features (much as Google does with its one number service).

Caller ID Slow
For some customers, they do not receive Caller ID until the 2nd to 3rd Ring (which seems to be related to the issue of fast ring cycles, see below).

Support for Answering Machines
Some @Home customers prefer to use a separate answering machine, and some of those customers have had slight problems with the existing @Home service that could be corrected. Most customers use T-Mobile’s included voice mailbox (and I recommend merging it with your existing mobile phone’s voice mailbox, to avoid having to check two, different voice mailboxes).

Fast Ring cycles => Answering Machine picks up too quickly
Some customers note that their answering machines are cued to record the message too quickly, due to very fast ring cycles from the router.
[Reference: http://forums.linksys.com/linksys/board/message?board.id=VoIP_Routers&message.id=2950&query.id=225743#M2950%5D

Caller disconnect not indicated => Answering Machine records busy signal
Suggestion: Drop the line voltage when the calling party disconnects instead of giving a busy signal
(so that the answering machine does not record the busy signal). When the caller hangs up after leaving a message, the answering machine can’t detect the hangup and stays connected for 10-15 seconds during the fast busy signal.

“Based on my research on similar problem with other VOIP setups, I suspect the CPC duration (aka Open Loop Disconnect–the amount of time the router has the phone line voltage go to zero to indicate a hang-up) is too short, probably 150-200 ms, and so most answering machines can’t detect it. On other VOIP systems the CPC duration was a setting on the router, but on the 1.004 firmware for this router there are almost no configurable options for the “Voice” settings on the router.”
[Reference: http://forums.linksys.com/linksys/board/message?board.id=Wireless_Routers&message.id=104470&query.id=229383#M104470%5D

Reviews and Info on T-Mobile @Home

October 23, 2008 at 11:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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@Home General Info, Reviews

T-Mobile @Home web site, chock full of useful info
FAQ
Reviews of the service, posted at the T-Mobile@Home  website
Great review of the BlackBerry 8320 Curve and @Home capabilities [Mobile Burn]
Typically thorough review from Giz folks [Gizmodo]
David Pogue raves about the cost-savings benefits of @Home [NY Times]
Excellent, ongoing review of @Home [elearninglive]
Ongoing discussion [DSL Reports]

Hotspot At Home reviews

Hotspot At Home is the precursor to T-Mobile @Home, and shares many of the attributes, so the review are relevant to T-Mobile @Home service.

Excellent, in-depth review of Hotspot At Home from 6 months of early use [Boing Boing Gadgets, 1/2008]
CNET review of Hotspot At Home [CNET, 6/2007]
Early review of HotSpot At Home, using initial Nokia 6086 and Samsung t409 flip phones [EnGadget]

Router Info and Setup

Router setup (T-Mobile)
Product Support Page (Linksys WRTU54G-TM)
Containing:

  • Router Setup Guide (poster)
  • User Guide
  • Setup Wizard
  • Firmware
Support Discussion Forum (Linksys)
Support page for @Home router (T-Mobile)
Activating/Deactivating Features: http://support.t-mobile.com/knowbase/root/public/tm23844.htm

One or two fixed lines and numbers (double your savings!)

September 29, 2008 at 1:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Q: Want more than one wired telephone line (and telephone number)

Solution: Just request the additional line of service from T-Mobile.

In case one wired telephone line (and telephone number) is not enough, @Home can provide two, separate lines.
Just request the additional line of service from T-Mobile (an additional $10/month; same price as your other line of all-you-can-eat wireline service).

Router supports One or Two telephone lines

Router Can Provide 1 or 2 Phone Lines

T-Mobile will send you an additional SIM card for your router, and you will connect the second line just like you installed the first line.

Remember: You can have multiple phones in the home without having to add an additional line of service. This blog explains how to do this. You can have multiple wired phones, multiple cordless phones, even multiple cellular phones … all making free calls using your @Home service.

You only need to add another port to:

  • get two, separate wired lines, ringing different phones, allowing you to make two, simultaneous calls
  • get two, different wireline telephone numbers
    If you have two, wireline numbers, you can move both to @Home and double your savings.

Your choice: one line or two.

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

Ways to Enhance T-Mobile @Home

September 23, 2008 at 9:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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OK, so @Home is a smokin’ deal, but you can make it do even more. Here are a few improvements that I was able to make as I set up @Home in my home office:

  • Multiple phones a ringin’
    Most people have more than one phone in their apartment or home, right? Well, @Home can serve all of them (although the Install Guide and Manual do not lead you to that conclusion, and suggest that you directly connect a single phone to the router. Uh, that’s kinda limiting, don’t you think? You can connect the router to your home wiring so that you can make/receive calls from all phone in da house.
  • One or two fixed lines and telephone numbers (double your savings!)
    More than one person want to talk at the same time in your home? No problem! You can have one or two wireline connections, so that two, independent calls can come in or go out, each on different telephone numbers. If you have two, wireline numbers, you can move both to @Home and double your savings.
  • Multiple cellular phones (free) calling
    You can have more than one cell phone simultaneously using your @Home wireless service.
  • Free calls from anywhere you have Internet access
    @Home provides you with free calling when your phone is on a Wi-Fi network, not just from your Home. Get more! (as T-Mobile used to say). You can have free calls from anywhere that you can access the Internet: Starbucks, airport, hotel room in Hong Kong, … anywhere! With this technique, you will save a lot on roaming fees for voice and data.
  • Expanded range, better audio quality
    To ensure that you have lots of (free) Wi-Fi coverage, you can expand it, if you desire.
  • Conveniently Locating the Router
    To avoid placing creating an equipment pile (I didn’t want all that hot gear flashing and heating up my home office), you can move it to a convenient place.
  • Ensuring Calling Name delivery
    I like Calling Name (considered part of the “true Caller ID” that T-Mobile offers as part of @Home) and had to do so me work to ensure that it was provided.
  • Things you’ll Like and Dislike
    Here’s a summary review of @Home service, with comments on some things that you may miss, like sending/receiving a FAX.
  • How to successfully Port an existing number to @Home
    You can save a lot of cash by moving any existing wireline phone service to @Home, while keeping your existing telephone number (no one will know).

I’ll review each of these, in detail, over successive blog entries. I hope that you benefit from these ideas, as my intent here is just to share something that may be useful to as many folks as possible. Enjoy!

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