T-Mobile launches HotSpot @ Home service in selected areas
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.
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.
Another 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.