Tagged wifi

Thank you, Skype and Borders

Yesterday I was attending a conference down in Mass, and I managed to forget my phone at home. Of course, I needed to negotiate a complicated vehicle transfer with my father-in-law after the meeting, so the lack of communications was really annoying. Finally frustrated with checking email at random hotspots to get return text messages, I stopped at a Borders and hopped on the free wifi (yes, I bought my obligatory coffee). I was able to download Skype pretty quick, and after charging my laptop for a few minutes, slink outside to call from an alcove in the mall. Surprisingly, the call quality was pretty good, and even on the relatively slow Borders network I was able to stream the call and look up directions on Google maps simultaneously. Car exchanged, mission accomplished.

Thank goodness technology can help us find workarounds for our dependence on technology.

A true cell phone / landline hybrid?

While last week saw the much-promoted and heavily-anticipated arrival of the iPhone, another significant advancement in wireless telephone service slipped almost under the radar. German-based telecommunications giant T-Mobile announced the addition of a new feature known as HotSpot @Home, which allows subscribers to use their cell phones over their home wireless network, with unlimited calling, for about $10 a month. For anyone who’s had problems with weak service in their house, or who wants the ability to use their cell number as their primary number, this service has been a long time coming. I personally don’t have a land line at home, but sometimes my cell phone won’t ring in certain parts of the house, and of course, mucho daytime minutes can cost mucho dollars, so cell phones have historically tended to make good land line substitutes only if you could call after 9pm. If only I had T-Mobile service as far north as I am, but no such luck.

As far as the technology goes, ZDNet’s review found a lot to like about the service, and just a few criticisms, chief among them that the service only works with two phones right now.

The bottom line: Despite a few problems when transitioning between cellular airwaves and wireless networks, the T-Mobile HotSpot @Home service is a great idea. You can save money, get better reception, and possibly even get rid of your existing landline. However, we would wait until the service supports more phones.

T-MobileAnother interesting note about the service: since T-Mobile’s approach to wireless has been targeted at family plans in the U.S., you can also purchase the @Home plan for up to 5 phones for only $20 a month, meaning each member of the family can have a private line with unlimited minutes, a feature that will surely have parents rushing to the store in droves.

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