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First look at the T-Mobile @Home service

A hands-on with the T-Mobile @Home service

T-Mobile @Home HiPort router
T-Mobile @Home HiPort router

The news has broke that T-Mobile will be offering a VoIP service called T-Mobile @Home in select cities nationwide. However, yours truly had a chance to get some hands-on time with the specially built T-Mobile HotSpot @Home HiPort wireless Linksys router made especially for this service. T-Mobile also sent me an optional VTech cordless phone so I can test it out.

Setting up the router is the same procedure as setting up any other router, save for one difference: You need to install a SIM card. T-Mobile provided me with one, which I then snapped into place in the back of the router. There are two SIM card slots and two phone jacks, so you have the capability to use this with up to two lines. After installing the SIM card, simply attach the Ethernet cable from the modem to the router, and then connect the router to your computer. You can now attach your home phone (or cordless phone in my case) to the router. Note: If you inserted a SIM card in the Line 1 slot, you should connect your home phone to the corresponding Phone 1 jack. If you wish to change settings, such as passwords and WPA security, you can do so via a Web browser. Voila! You're ready to go. The process took maybe five minutes, if not less.

Making calls feels just like any other plain old telephone service. Just pick up the phone, dial, and you're on your way. Call quality was about the same as landline, though we did pick up a tiny bit of hiss the further we moved the cordless phone away from the base. As we mentioned, the VTech cordless phone system is completely optional; according to T-Mobile, you can use the router with any touch-tone phone. If you do wish to get the VTech phone, it's about $59.99.

Overall, we thought it was a great deal. The router does cost $149.99, but you can get it for $49.99 if you agree to a two-year contract. You also have to pay $10 a month for the @Home service, which really isn't too bad. The fee includes unlimited nationwide long-distance, caller ID, voice mail, call waiting, three-way conferencing, and more. You can also port over your home phone number if you like.