T-Mobile launches HotSpot @ Home service in selected areas

T-Mobile launches HotSpot @ Home service in selected areas

Summary: I was a beta tester of this new UMA service and T-Mobile is now starting to roll out the service in the Puget Sound area. The new service allows you to use WiFi with your mobile phone while connected to your network or any T-Mobile Hotspot. If you have a weak cell signal at your house, this new service should solve that problem while providing some cool features.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Mobility
7

A couple of months ago I was offered a chance to beta test the upcoming T-Mobile UMA service and was given a full kit to try for 6 weeks. The kit consisted of a T-Mobile branded Linksys router and Samsung UMA WiFi-enabled phone. T-Mobile is now rolling out their HotSpot @ Home service to customers in the Puget Sound area of Washington State for more public testing purposes. You need to buy the WiFi enabled phone for US$49.99 and existing smartphones you may have with WiFi radios will not work. The service costs US$19.99 a month on top of your regular cell plan (at least a US$39.99 plan is needed), but for me this is a no brainer since I spend US$20 a month for long distance service with my landline phone carrier since cell signals have traditionally been poor in my house.

T-Mobile HotspotAnother part of this service that makes things even sweeter is that you get an unlimited number of U.S. minutes when the call is placed or received on your home network or at any of the 7,000 T-Mobile Hot Spots (i.e. at Starbucks, Hyatt hotels, and airports). T-Mobile has their wireless router available for free after rebate and I recommend it because it has a single button to make the secure connection to your phone even easier. The one I tested was a Linksys 802.11 b/g model and was an excellent quality router.

My wife runs a home business and found the service to be fantastic so I just registered and will be purchasing the service soon. She also loved the slide-up display Samsung SGH-t709 phone that was part of the beta test and looks to be one of the phones offered with the new service. Unlimited calls at home with a super strong signal is very compelling for those with home-based businesses, especially since you can then take that same phone out on the road for cellular calls. Using this service may also reduce the number of cellular minutes used, but if it brings in more customers then it may work out well for T-Mobile. I haven't heard of any other carrier rolling out this service in the U.S. either.

Topic: Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

7 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Bad beta program

    I agree that the service is very good but this was perhaps the poorest run beta program I have ever participated in. I think T-Mobile needs to seriously consider upgrading their beta testing technology and services for this was the worst program I have ever paticipated in.
    austin672
    • Care to tell us why it was bad?

      Austin672, I would be interested in hearing about your experiences with the beta program.

      I was a tester and the initial meeting and presentation given to me at the store was great. I then took the hardware home and set everything up and was off and running. I filled out a few online weekly surveys and then sent the equipment back after the beta program was over. The worst part of the program was that there was no feedback from T-Mobile at any time. I like beta program where there is a discussion forum or other means of two way communication. With this type of program you never know if anyone is taking your feedback and improving the product or if your comments are just out there in the wind.

      I am going to buy the service as soon as I return from my current business trip and will try the t709 phone, but it had HORRIBLE battery life in the beta program and it must be fixed or I'll try the Nokia to see if that is any better.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • Message has been deleted.

    ahinkle
  • required router

    Will the service work with routers other than the one supplied by t-mobile?

    If so, could the service be used via it's WiFi interface at locations around the world? How is the phone configured for router security?

    Thanks.
    tevslin
    • Other routers do work with the service

      tevslin, I first tried using my SMC Barricade router and the service does indeed work with other routers. The router they sell has a single button security feature that makes it easier to setup the security between the router and the phone, but you can use other routers and setup security manually as well. The service is designed to work at WiFi hotspots so you should be able to use the unlimited minute and UMA feature at a buddy's house with WiFi, hotels with WiFi, or any other location where you can get a WiFi signal. I'll have to try this out some more with public WiFi hotspots to see how the security works, but I do know there are options for security on the phones.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • Do multiple Wifi locations work beyond T-Mobile Hotspots

        How sure are you that any WiFi access would work? Could it be
        that you have one access point at home and then for the rest you
        neet to be at an official "T-Mobile Hotspot" (TM). My reception
        sucks both at home and at work -- so if one could use broadband
        in both locations I could stay with T-Mobile!
        indigo144
        • Should work with any WiFi connection

          I just bought the router and Samsung phone yesterday and am trying out the release version right now. I was told by the store manager that the WiFi connectivity of the phone will work with any WiFi connection, including T-Mobile Hotspots, your friend's house, or work. You will need to enter security settings for those locations that have secure networks and I'll be trying out different locations soon.
          palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)