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.

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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.

Reducing your Mobile Phone Bill when Travelling Abroad (Part 1 of 3)

December 1, 2009 at 2:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Q: How do you travel internationally and use your mobile phone … without running up a huge bill?

A: Buy service locally, at the lowest rates. It is possible to save 80% on your cell phone bills when traveling abroad and to limit your expenditures. People often ask about this, so I thought that I’d post the best practices, while supporting a variety of choices, from using your own phone and service plan to purchasing a phone abroad, international dialing, electrical adaptors for charging, and more. All of which you’ll need to know. My primary recommendation is to purchase service when you are there using a “Prepaid SIM.” While the simplest choice is to take your existing phone, the least expensive is to purchase Prepaid service abroad (that works for many countries).

Benefits: 80% Savings and Limit Your Cell Phone Charges

In addition to major savings, another major benefit of using this recommendation is that you can budget and control the amount of money spent on cell phone use when traveling. I’ll describe this for a hypothetical student/traveller who is traveling abroad for the first time, but the recommendations apply to anyone traveling abroad and who is calling locally or back to the U.S.

  • Budget: The amount that you wish to allocate to spend calling home is entirely up to you.  With a prepaid account, you can not accidentally run up a large cell phone bill when traveling. You can deposit a budgeted amount into your Prepaid account, and add to it if you wish.
  • Savings: For example, if you send a text message a couple of times per day and makes a long phone call every other day or so, over a 3-week trip you’ll spend only $13 (and save $50 or more). To see the current rates, go to the PrePaid GSM web site for a summary of links to all of the Pre-Paid services, by country (sorry, no comparison table; you have to do some looking yourself to compare apples and apples).

Simplest Plan: Take your existing phone

If you already have a cell phone, they you may be able to take your existing phone with you, but be prepared to pay very high rates for voice and text—over $1/minute and $0.35/text—since you will be Internationally Roaming and making International calls/texts. This is a great option to use if you expect that your son/daughter will hardly ever use the phone. This option is possible if you already have a GSM phone (the world standard for mobile phones, provided by AT&T, T-Mobile and others); if you have service from a CDMA carrier (Alltel, Sprint, Verizon) then your existing phone will not work abroad and you will have to get a new phone (your existing carrier offers special, WorldMode phones that can work abroad, but these phones are very expensive). If you are unsure whether you have a GSM phone and can use your existing phone, then please check out this post (with clear illustrations).

iPhone update (5/2012): You can use your iPhone when traveling by unlocking your iPhone (contact your provider) or by purchasing an unlocked iPhone (as I have). If you have completed your initial contract obligation, your carrier will likely unlock your phone at no charge (as AT&T promised, in early 2012).

What to Do, Before You Depart

Just call your carrier’s Customer Care department (just dial 611 from your cell phone; it is a free call) and let them know that you want to use your phone when traveling internationally. Things to check on this call, before you depart:

  • Is my phone capable of making calls on international networks?
    (Your phone needs to support the international GSM frequencies, which are different from those used in the U.S.  Your phone should be a “Quad band” phone that works on 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequencies)
  • Does my service plan allow me to roam internationally and make international calls?
    (To reduce fraud, most service plans have this option disabled, so you simply need to ask to turn it on. This will not incur a charge, but it allows you to make calls to the U.S. while roaming abroad)

Avoid Unwanted, Incoming Calls: To avoid unexpected charges from incoming calls while you are abroad, you may also wish to keep your phone turned off until you desire to use it to originate a call or text message. You would be surprised to find out, when you return, that you are charged international rates for calls that ring your phone—even those that you do not answer and that go to voice mail—for the amount of time that the caller is speaking.

Avoid Data Charges: To avoid exorbitant charges for mobile Internet (“data” charges, for web browsing, location-based services, email, etc.), you may wish to turn off data services on your phone or to simply avoid using the device for data services. International charges for data services are very costly and additional to your regular plan, and unwary travelers can incur bills of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Cheapest Plan: Take your existing phone and get Prepaid service there

The least expensive way to make calls abroad is to (a) take a phone that is compatible and (b) obtain prepaid service from a European mobile carrier. You will be able to call the U.S. for $0.07/minute and send text for $0.15—nearly as inexpensive as calling within the U.S.! Additionally, you can budget and control the amount spent on cell phone use (since the charges are quote different than those incurred at home, they can unexpectedly add up!).

What to Do, Before You Depart

If you have a compatible mobile phone, then you can take it with you and use the phone with a Prepaid account that you will obtain from a European carrier. You can either (A) purchase an account before you travel or (B) purchase your SIM card when you arrive. The trick is that you will purchase your service from the European carrier when you arrive and that will provide you with the lowest possible rates. If you lack a compatible mobile phone (e.g., you have a CDMA phone or no phone), you can still use this option: you simply need to get a compatible phone when you land.

If you already have a GSM phone, then you just have a couple of things to check with your carrier’s Customer Care (just dial 611 from your cell phone; it is a free call) before you depart:

  • Is my phone capable of making calls on international networks?
    (Your phone needs to support the international GSM frequencies, which are different from those used in the U.S.  Your phone should be a “Quad band” phone that works on 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequencies)
  • Is my phone “unlocked”?
    Phones are typically locked—for use only with a specific carrier—when they are purchased in the U.S. with a service plan. Just ask your carrier to unlock the phone to allow you to use it abroad with another carrier’s service plan.

Budget your Spend: You can budget the amount that you will place in your prepaid account and spend while traveling. Just give your ambassador the amount that you desire to spend, and they can deposit his amount (in their Prepaid SIM account) when they land in Europe. Like a debit card, they can recharge or “top up” their account if they use up all of their account.

Any unused funds will not go to waste, as you can always use the additional minutes after (s)he returns to the U.S.! Naturally, it would be most convenient if you provide those funds in the local currency (British Pounds if you arrive in the UK, or Euros elsewhere)—just call your bank and they will happily provide foreign currency before your trip.

Now that your phone is compatible and unlocked, you have a choice: you can either (A) purchase an account before you travel or (B) purchase your SIM card when you arrive. I prefer to purchase before I go, so I’ve now purchased a Tru SIM for my upcoming travel.

(A) Purchase and receive your SIM card before you travel: Contact Truphone and purchase a multi-country “Tru SIM” card that will be shipped to you before you depart. It arrives suitable for use with nearly all phones (SIM and micro SIM form factors). If you have an iPhone 5 or a device that requires the nano-SIM form factor, contact their Customer Services and they can provide that alternative at no additional cost. For more info, read up on rates and FAQs on the Truphone web site, and I also recommend reading the objective review and recommendation from PC World magazine. Tru SIM can deliver excellent rates (similar to those that you would receive when purchasing the service in-country, since they purchase service using a SIM subscription that appears to belong to a local carriers), can be manually or automatically topped up, and provides excellent phone support.

(B) Purchase your SIM card when you arrive at your destination: You have a single, simple transaction to complete, ideally in the airport after you get your luggage (Example: Vodafone retail store in London Heathrow Airport). In the airport, go to the Retail Store of a major mobile carrier (I recommend Vodafone since they provide the best coverage across Western Europe) and ask to purchase the combination of:

  • a basic, prepaid SIM card
    (allowing you to budget how much you wish to spend on calling and SMS, and you can add funds to it at any time, e.g. Vodafone’s “Pay As You Go” plan)
  • an international roaming option that provides the best roaming rates for mobile service outside of the country that you are buying your prepaid service
    (e.g., Vodafone’s “Passport” is free) For example, to activate Vodafone’s “Passport” feature:

    • Dial 5555, Press the Green “Call” button, then
    • Choose option 2 and then Option 1
  • an international calling plan that provides the best international calling/texting rates
  • (e.g., “Vodafone International”)For example, to activate the Vodafone International call plan:
    • Dial 36888, Press the Green “Call” button, then
    • Choose option 2 and then Option 1

You are ready to travel and call or text anywhere! Just remember to dial/text using International Dialing (see “Dialing an International Number”), which includes the country code, to avoid calling the wrong party.

What If I Lack a (compatible) Cell Phone?

If you do not have a compatible mobile phone (e.g., you have a CDMA phone or no phone), you can still use the lowest-cost option. You simply need to get a compatible phone first: before you travel (at an AT&T or T-Mobile store) or when you land (at the Retail Store for a European mobile provider, such as Vodafone). If you are unsure whether you have a compatible phone, please read this post “Can I use my existing phone?“. After you get your phone, go back and complete the following section “Cheapest Plan: Take your existing phone and get Prepaid service there.”

I have no cell phone and want to start using one

To get a phone before you leave, you could go to the local wireless store and sign up for a GSM service plan: monthly or prepaid. But be clear about your intent to use the phone with a different carrier’s prepaid account while abroad and insist that they unlock the phone before you purchase anything. Also, be sure that the phone is compatible for use on International networks (you’ll want a “Quad-band GSM phone” that operates on the standard, international frequencies).

  • Prepaid Plan
    This can be an excellent way to start using cellular service if you do not yet have a cell phone plan. You can start cellular service that you can use when you return and get a phone that you can use abroad. Your initial costs will be slightly higher as you are paying for the mobile phone up front (instead of paying for is over many months of a service plan). I strongly recommend prepaid service for early cell phone users, as it allows you to budget your expenditures and can be far less costly than a monthly plan. You will get a GSM phone (which comes with a SIM card representing your U.S. prepaid plan). I recommend T-Mobile as they offer the lowest rates and best customer service, although you’ll want to be sure that the carrier provides good service where you’ll use it—check their online coverage map before purchasing.
  • Monthly Plan
    Your initial costs will be lower since you are paying for the cell phone in monthly installments as part of your monthly plan, which you are obligated to pay for many months.

I have no cell phone and do not want to start using one

You may avoid buying a phone for use internationally (avoiding a significant cost) and simply borrow a friend’s phone for a moment to make a call/text using her phone and your service plan—by placing your SIM card in her phone before you call/text and removing it after you are done. Simply follow the section “Cheapest Plan: Take your existing phone and get Prepaid service there” and purchase a Prepaid Service plan from a European mobile provider when you arrive and periodically use a friend’s phone (see “SIM card?” section, below, for details).

Unlimited, Free Talk (using Wi-Fi)

An advanced option (that requires a bit more work, but well worth it if you want unlimited, free international calls) is to get a UMA-capable phone and use any Wi-Fi hotspot to make free calls as if you were at home. Check out T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi Calling service, free

T-Mobile Wi-Fi Calling summary

with your existing, monthly T-Mobile account. T-Mobile lets you make/receive all of the calls that you want when you are connected to them via a W-Fi network. This includes international locations. So you could, for example, talk for an hour from a coffee shop in Rome to friends at home … for free. Or, if you are a business traveller, you could return all of your calls on your mobile for free when travelling abroad, avoiding thousands of dollars in roaming fees.

NEXT: Part 2, How to Reduce your Mobile Data Costs, when roaming internationally.

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).

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

Free calling in Wi-Fi Hotspots; Multiple cell phones @Home

October 22, 2008 at 5:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , ,

Want more free calling for more members of your household?
Do these members of your household prefer to use their cellular phone?

Solution: Add the “Hotspot @Home” calling feature and then they can call free from any hotspot, including your @Home hotspot, over 8000 T-Mobile hotpost locations (including Starbucks locations), any open Wi-Fi hotspot (school, cafe, etc.). Check out the excellent website and animations.

This option is for other folks that spend a lot of time in hotspots and who could benefit from talking for free in those hotspots. 
Whoever set up the @Home account already gets this benefit, as part of their @Home feature.

This would benefit someone who talks A LOT. My daughter, for example, prefers to text, and so this is not a good fit for her. She has a monthly subscription and never uses up her allotted minutes of talk time, so this is not a useful feature for her. 

Even though it’s called Hotspot @Home, it is offered independently of the @Home service. You can have one, or both, I think of HotSpot @Home as @Home service without the free, wireline service in your home, but with the added ability to use T-Mobile hotpots for free. Hotspot @HOME = Unlimited Hotspot Calling

Limitations of the Hotspot @Home feature
Only applicable to:
( ) T-Mo monthly subscriber  (not “To Go” Pre-Paid)
( ) Wi-Fi capable handset
( ) UMA support

I’ve compiled a list of compatible phones, check that post for a comprehensive list and more details about handset choice.

Ways to Enhance T-Mobile @Home

September 23, 2008 at 9:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , ,

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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