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Looking for wifi calling service for cell phone

by MTL02132 / June 11, 2010 2:14 AM PDT

Unlike many of the threads here about using an unlocked phone for data over wifi without a data plan, my issue is making cell calls over wifi. I have had trouble tracking down a sufficient answer via carrier websites and through contact with my current cell carrier. I have the TMobile Hot Spot @Home service, and the companion cellphones that work with a wifi signal for making calls (I use a Blackberry Pearl 8120 and my wife uses a Samsung Katalyst - note: this is NOT regarding the VOIP service that TMobile provides for home phones). However, TMobile no longer supplies cell phones that work with this service, and I am at the end of my contract and looking for alternatives. My problem is that I live in an area with notoriously spotty cell service - which makes the capability of making calls over a wifi signal in my home a critical consideration for me.

Do you know of other carriers that provide a service similar to the Hot Spot @Home, and whether there are any comparison reviews from outlets like CNET to help with decision making? And short of that, do you happen to know whether some of the newer phones that have wifi capabilities allow calls over wifi - or whether the wifi capability is limited to data?

Not sure if there are many others in this similar situation - its likely why the @Home service was discontinued. In any case, I'd appreciate any thoughts you may have. Thanks in advance.

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Carriers with UMA phones?
by MTL02132 / June 11, 2010 2:44 AM PDT
In reply to: I'm thinking UMA

Thanks; that's a big help in terms of what to look for when selecting a handset. However, it appears - looking at the website umatoday.com that is linked through your article, that TMobile is the only US carrier that offers UMA phones. Anyone know differently? Thanks again.

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All this is in a state of change.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 11, 2010 2:48 AM PDT

As carriers rearrange line ups, chop up the data plans and more you might want to consider the old land line for in home use and the cell phone for on the run.
Bob

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Options
by Pepe7 / June 11, 2010 3:49 PM PDT

Are you forced to stick w/ T-Mo, or can you switch carriers? If so, you might look at the ATT microcell (=femtocell). There are some good threads on this @ howardforums.com. I'd also investigate whether SIP would be an option for you over wifi, if T-Mo pulls the plug on you. To throw more fuel into the fire, Vonage offers an app for T-Mobile or ATT Android handsets.
http://gizmodo.com/5513904/vonage-voip-apps-now-available-for-t+mobile-and-att-android-phones

There are also repeaters starting at $299 that work pretty well in bringing in the outdoor signal indoors where it was previously spotty.
Wilson Electronics has some nice ones that do well in combination with an externally mounted antenna.

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SIP?
by MTL02132 / June 14, 2010 5:42 AM PDT
In reply to: Options

Sorry, for the tech-ignorant, what is a SIP? Who offers it and what does it cost? A clarification from my original post: yes, I am a free agent and will sign with any carrier where I can boost signal in my house. Key components here are cost and use of a dumb phone, since I really have no need for a smartphone and the accompanying data cost add-ons. So if I can find something that operates on wifi or a low-cost alternative, I will be happy. TMobile @Home did that, however fleeting.

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SIP
by Pepe7 / June 21, 2010 2:57 AM PDT
In reply to: SIP?
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me too
by simoncleo / July 16, 2010 12:37 PM PDT

This is exactly the info i'm looking for also. It's interesting though, that you say T-Mobile discontinued the hot spot@home. They haven't told me that. I'm still in my 2 year contract and using that service. My Pearl Flip display recently died and just tonight I tried to upgrade. They ARE still offering uma phones but only about 4 models all at the high price end of all their phones. I'm assuming you can't get these models anywhere else except to get them used, ebay, craigslist, etc. But I bet they will still say you have to buy a data plan. Also I already found out the hard way, the same model they offer with UMA, if issued by another carrier, will not have UMA, even if it's unlocked. They were giving me the runaround tonight. I signed a contract for 2 years, hot spot@home, 300 texts/mo and now they say I will have to buy a data plan to buy a uma smart phone (I guess only smart phones have UMA)at an upgrade price. Meaning I have to sign up for 2 more years AND pay at least $30 more per month. Or pay full price so that in 9 months, before the phone can pay for itself, they can say "too bad". So it makes sense they are discontinuing the service and trying to milk me and whoever else for all they can in the meantime. It looks like no one else offers that kind of service. You and I can't be the only ones who can't get a signal inside our homes. I don't know about you, but I can't afford both a land line and a cell. I need a cell for calling for transportation since there are almost no pay phones anymore. I live in an unsafe neighborhood so it's important I can use a phone inside my home.

So I'm wondering how T-Mobile got the monopoly on the service and the matching phones and why there are going to leave us high and dry. I accused them this evening via customer service chat of pulling a "bait and switch". It also seems analogous to the Microsoft anti trust issues.

Anyway, to answer one of your questions, wi-fi capable can only mean data transfer/internet, vs calling, which requires the UMA also.

I know I'm a little back and forth here and hope this isn't considered too off-topic. If so, I'm sorry.

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wonderful
by tooladd / July 16, 2010 4:50 PM PDT
In reply to: me too
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