While T-Mobile (DT) - Get Dynatrace, Inc. Report was the last major cellular provider to begin rolling out its 3G data network (the Las Vegas announcement was made this morning). It has also been active in getting subscribers to use the service for calls inside their homes.
A Closer Look at T-Mobile's Home Phone Service
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The service is called HotSpot @Home, and it's $9.99 per month (in addition to your other monthly cellular charges) for unlimited nationwide calling (via Wi-Fi service).
I use the HotSpot @Home service all the time on my
8820. In some locations, it lets me make and receive phone calls where cellular signals don't exist.
Now, T-Mobile is expanding its home services. Instead of using specially designed cellphones, T-Mobile now has a service that lets you use standard, landline home phones (touch-tone or wireless).
T-Mobile @Home (no hotspot in this title) is available to any current T-Mobile subscriber with a qualifying (at least $39.99/month) cellular calling plan.
It works by using a special @Home HiPort Wireless router with Home Phone connection made by Linksys ($49.99). It's a normal 802.11b/g wireless router that connects to your home broadband Internet connection, with a twist. There's also room for two cellular SIM cards inside and two RJ-11 jacks to plug in two phones. That means you can have one or two home phone lines, with separate phone numbers, all being routed through your Wi-Fi box.
You hook-up the T-Mobile router to your DSL/Cable/Satellite high-speed Internet connection, and about 60 seconds later a blue "telephone light" (or lights if you want two lines), in addition to all the other Wi-Fi lights, says you're up and running. Plug in a standard home phone of your choice, and you're set to go.
This new @Home service is also $9.99 per month (in addition to your standard cellular charges). You get voicemail, call hold, call waiting, caller ID, and can opt for discount calling services to Canada and Mexico.
I've been testing this service for a few weeks now, and can give it an "A" rating. The phone service works exactly as advertised. I heard what callers were saying, and they said they heard me "just fine."
The only time the new @Home service disappointed it was NOT T-Mobile's fault.
service to my home seems to disappear every time it rains, necessitating a restart of the Cablevision service box and now the T-Mobile @Home router box as well. A mere 60 seconds later, everything was back in order.
If you're a T-Mobile subscriber and you're currently paying more that $10 per month for home phone service, then this is a no-brainer. @Home is much cheaper than any of the Cable VoIP phone services -- or the private ones like
. If you don't use T-Mobile as your cellphone carrier, this just might be the impetus to check it out.
Home phone service for $10 per month (or less) is highly recommended.
Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.