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Cincinnati Bell Wireless launches Wi-Fi/cell service

Dual-mode Wi-Fi and cellular services could make it big this summer as Cincinnati Bell Wireless and T-Mobile both launch new services.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon

Cincinnati Bell Wireless has launched a new service that allows people to use one handset that switches between a Wi-Fi and cellular network.

The service, called CB Home Run, works using a dual-mode Wi-Fi and cellular phone that lets users switch between the two networks depending on which one offers the best signal. Cincinnati Bell is using the Nokia 6086 handset, which contains radios for both Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. The operator is offering the phone for about $65 with a $15 rebate. It works with Wi-Fi networks in homes and offices as well as with Cincinnati Bell's more than 300 Wi-Fi hotspots around Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio.

The phone company claims that calls made using the Wi-Fi network provide better reception in problematic areas, such as basements and elevators. And for $10 extra a month, subscribers can make unlimited calls when those calls originate on the Wi-Fi network.

The service uses technology referred to as UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access), which allows a single mobile-phone number to work over both the GSM cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

T-Mobile USA has been testing a similar service in Seattle for several months. And it's expected to take the service nationwide later this summer.