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T-Mobile Announces WiFi Meshing Cellphone

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the nothing-about-the-iPhone dept.

Wireless Networking 275

tregetour writes with a link to a New York Times article penned by David Pogue about a quiet announcement last week by T-Mobile. It has nothing to do with the iPhone, but it could still be a welcome revolution for users plagued by high cellphone bills. "Here's the basic idea. If you're willing to pay $10 a month on top of a regular T-Mobile voice plan, you get a special cellphone. When you're out and about, it works like any other phone; calls eat up your monthly minutes as usual. But when it's in a Wi-Fi wireless Internet hot spot, this phone offers a huge bargain: all your calls are free. You use it and dial it the same as always — you still get call hold, caller ID, three-way calling and all the other features — but now your voice is carried by the Internet rather than the cellular airwaves." He goes on to explain further benefits of the system, and describes the wireless routers that the company will be pushing with the service. The only thing missing: an estimate of when it will hit stores.

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5ers (0, Offtopic)

R00BYtheN00BY (1118945) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757615)

shitty buttes

Re:5ers (1)

R00BYtheN00BY (1118945) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757723)

looks like u n00bs got ***OWNED***!!!

An estimate? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19757617)

How about last week... when it actually hit stores? Anyway, it's just too bad that existing phones with WiFi like the Dash don't support this.

Not when, but if... (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757753)

If the carriers see this eating into their revenues they won't support it. Why give something away when you can charge for it?

Re:Not when, but if... (2, Insightful)

guruevi (827432) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757847)

So you can sell the "premium" service plan to them. Whether or not you make a call doesn't make a difference for most providers, the infrastructure is the same and has to be running anyway in order for you to get reception.

Yes, calling eats more bandwidth, but not everybody is calling at the same time nor 24/7 so the point is moot. That's how they can sell you unlimited calling/messaging plans at a premium ($5 extra/month).

The same here, whether or not the infrastructure will be used, the equipment and a reserved line has to be there (they will "reserve" bandwidth like most businesses, they can't afford to share all their bandwidth with other customers), the phone and service will come with an extra premium to pay for this though and there won't be 100 callers on a single router anyway, so there's always going to be place enough.

Take me for example, I pay $70 for 2 lines every month, whether I use the thousands-and-thousands of minutes with it or not is besides the point, my monthly costs are $70 no matter what I do with it, the revenue for the provider is the same whether I call or not, they have to power up the lines so I can make a call in the first place, whether or not it transmits data doesn't matter much then.

Re:Not when, but if... (2, Insightful)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757887)

Because T-mobil is more customer oriented then other AT&T family? Before anybody starts, I know, a business entity has to make money - but some companies out there do it without sucking their customers to death.

Re:Not when, but if... (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758253)

Try again. T-Mobile has subscription-based WiFi hotspots in popular locations like Starbucks. Seems like this move is about lining T-Mobile's pockets just as much as regular cell service.

Re:Not when, but if... (2, Interesting)

Cemu (968469) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757895)

They are charging for it, $10 more a month. And when the phone is using Wi-Fi what's the likelihood the call is being routed through T-Mobile's lines? They're genius, getting double benefits, more money and less traffic.

So what happens when.... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757937)

So, what if you have one of these phones, and it connects to the 'free' wifi the coffee shop you are near...will you be arrested for 'stealing' wifi like that guy awhile back did? I don't remember the city/state (somewhere in Penn.?).

Could you get arrested for this phone 'hijacking' an open wifi spot without the owners permission?

Re:So what happens when.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19758039)

Probably if they want to do that, since you have to manually configure wifi connections. It won't just hop on an open connection.

When did "Free" cost $10???? (1)

c0mmanderb0nd (994754) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758049)

So how can they charge an additional $10 a month and say "FREE"???? That doesn't make sense, if you are paying $10 a month EXTRA!!!! wouldn't that negate the use of the word FREE.

Re:Not when, but if... (1)

dthable (163749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758099)

a) Increases the demand for the T-Mobile hotspots in public places.
b) Other wi-fi providers are still going to charge for access.

Re:An estimate? (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757795)

They released it last week?! Wow. What kind of howling-idiot company pits their marketing department against Steve Jobs? That's, well, madness of the non-Spartan variety.

Re:An estimate? (2, Interesting)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758231)

They released it last week?! Wow. What kind of howling-idiot company pits their marketing department against Steve Jobs? That's, well, madness of the non-Spartan variety.

Right now it's only offered in a few areas. I suspect this is more of a test-marketing push rather than a full rollout. T-mobile is probably just dipping their toes in the VOIP waters and may not have rolled out enough IP/phone network gateways to handle a huge amount of subscribers. I'm willing to bet T-mobile deliberately unveiled this during iPhone week so they can just as quietly withdraw the service from the market if they decide it isn't worth it to do the full push.

skype (1)

froggero1 (848930) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757621)

seems like a market skype should get into... or are they already?

Re:skype (1)

mashade (912744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757871)

Yeah, the tech sounds similar on the surface -- and you can already buy phones to do this sort of thing to link to your Skype account. But the T-Mobile take on this has a huge advantage:

true mobile calling.

Being dependent on hotspots sucks for communication! Trust me!

Re:skype (1)

froggero1 (848930) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757913)

yeah... it'd be interesting to see if/how it reroutes to VoIP from cellular towers without dropping the call... or how it deals with low bandwidth, or low signal quality wireless. weather that will flip it back onto the cell towers or not... and how those charges show up on your phone bill... they must be doing per second billing then as well (if it keeps flipping back and forth, say... when your stuck in gridlock on a road with houses nearby, snatching thier internets).

hey... speaking of further complications... what about that guy who was sued there a while back for using that coffee shops' unprotected wireless? wouldn't... this be against the law in some states?

Re:skype (2, Interesting)

mashade (912744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757977)

TFA actually addresses these issues. Wherever you start your call is how it's billed. Who knows if it'll stay that way, but that's how it's starting anyway according to the article.

Also according to the article, it does indeed route from hotspot to tower without dropping the call, though going from traditional to hotspot configuration takes longer than the other way around.

Re:skype (4, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758367)

The biggest problem with mobile wifi is hand offs. It's been a while since I've looked into the issue, I know there were a couple of MIT guys working on millisecond hand off from one hotspot to the next a year or two ago, but the power consumption was huge.

Cellphones don't have to handle hand offs, the towers do all the work. I had a job doing a lot of testing of call hand offs a few years back. You literally drive back and forth between a few towers, or in a bad hand off area (especially around lakes) and work on programming the towers as to when they should hand calls off to another tower based on vector, signal strength, and a tower list. The whole thing is dynamic too, so weather changes, call volume, new construction, etc... can all be handled at least in the short term with out further work.

I know Sysco has some really cool auto-meshing technology that makes their routers talk to each other and adjust signal strength to pick up for downed antennas, but that technology would have to mature a lot to get the same kind of hand off performance as cell phones enjoy.

-Rick

It's about time! (0, Offtopic)

crazyjeremy (857410) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757631)

It's about time.

Re:It's about time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19757817)

Hear, hear! Now if only someone can free our iPhones from simlock, then our journey to the dark side will be complete!

Great. (2, Insightful)

evilpenguin (18720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757643)

Now "I'm in the coffee shop. Where RU?" will take 10000 times the bandwidth it took on ICQ.

So much for Wi-Fi hotspots being useful for telecommuting...

Re:Great. (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757805)

Good point. While I can dig this for use on my own wireless network at home or work, I'm not sure all the customers (or the admins, for that matter) of places like coffee shops will be quite so thrilled.

However, this will get much more interesting in the future, considering the metropolitan areas that have been throwing around the idea of free municipal wifi.. imagine everyone in a given city getting free calls 24/7.

Re:Great. (1)

mashade (912744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758033)

True, but if this thing really takes off, I can see it spurring access speeds in general for the US. One can hope, anyway.

Re:Great. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758067)

imagine everyone in a given city getting free calls 24/7.

Yeah, and so can the phone companies.

Ain't gonna happen. They'll just raise that $10/mo (what the hell is that for, anyway? Ten bucks a month to not use their network? WTF) until it's as high as the average person pays to use the cellular network. And then laugh all the way to the bank.

Re:Great. (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758345)

They'll just raise that $10/mo (what the hell is that for, anyway? Ten bucks a month to not use their network? WTF)

You nailed it, I believe. It's a trade-off for them: They don't really think they'll lose that much overage revenue because of these phones, but the service they're providing means, if properly exploited, they could lose some...but also gain a ton (or more!) of customers.

CEO of Major Firm: Good news, everyone gets a cellphone to replace their desk phone. Bad news, you can only use it within range of our wireless network.

T-Mobile just gained 5000 new customers but no overages.

Re:Great. (5, Informative)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758107)

Most coffee shop deployments will not die on bandwith. They will die on packet rates. One VOIP call is 100 packets per second. 8 calls are 800. While the nominal rate of most devices used for APs should in theory allow 10+ times more than that, in reality they will die NAT-ing the traffic. 3-4 calls at most is what they can handle without excessively jittering the flows. 8+ calls is likely to kill most APs with built in NAT outright. 8 calls assuming IPSEC in UDP NAT traversal and AMR internally is around some measly 320Kbit. So packet rates start killing this long before bandwidth is of any concern.

While there are few of these phones, they will be great. If they really get market penetration its own popularity will kill it or make it useless as it will be switching to GSM/3G all the time due to detected congestion on the WiFi. From there on there will be endless billing nightmares as consumers will insist that they called over WiFi while the call really was routed over cellular and so on and so fourth.

It will be fun to watch. From the sidelines. Thanks god I am no longer in this business.

Re:Great. (2, Insightful)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757901)

Now "I'm in the coffee shop. Where RU?" will take 10000 times the bandwidth it took on ICQ.

So much for Wi-Fi hotspots being useful for telecommuting...
That statement would take approximately 2 seconds to say. cellphones transmit at ~8k/s. Flash adds are bigger in implementation than the resulting 12k phone packet. Additionally, every hot spot I've seen has a high-speed connection of some kind. 15 phones going at the same time would barely make an impact on the overall speed.
Additionally, it's not like we aren't gaining bandwidth every year at a breakneck pace. Sure this may be slightly noticeable at first, but even the slower connections in the very near future will be able to handle a large number of phones.

The thing I'm worried about is the Wi-fi transmitter being a huge battery hog as is the case with most laptops.

Re:Great. (2, Interesting)

evilpenguin (18720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758219)

A) I was joking, and

B) The text version took 33 bytes plus packet overhead. Still way more efficient.

Another commenter who took me far too seriously points out (correctly) that it is packet rate that will be a problem. I would add that latency will also be a serious issue. I use Vonage on a 1Mbit wireless broadband connection and sometimes latency kills me. The delay messes up the codecs, which take time to resynch. I have to ask people to repeat themselves a lot because my network has highly variable RTT and highly variable packet loss rates (due to the hidden station problem, which still exists with DSSS wireless networks).

So, lighten up. Mine was meant to be a humorous gripe, but with just a little truth to it.

This will work less well than you think. I promise it will.

Provided you dont get arrested for using free wifi (2, Insightful)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758245)

With people getting arrested for using free WIFI
(http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/23/1 551227)
why would you use this?

Mesh???? (5, Interesting)

fatgav (555629) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757673)

Yeah, but how exactly is it a mesh?

Re:Mesh???? (2, Interesting)

Chikenistheman (992447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757741)

T-Mobile hosts plenty of HotSpots of their own around the country (the majority being in a starbuck nearest you). So if you have a cell phone that is capable of Wi-Fi and CELL you can utilize a t-mobile hot spot when you're close or cell network when you're far. It's a t-mobile back end either way you connect.

Re:Mesh???? (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757859)

It's a cell phone that "meshes" with existing wifi networks. They're not using the technical networking sense of "mesh".

Re:Mesh???? (2, Informative)

pHZero (790342) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757909)

The word "mesh" isn't mentioned once in TFA. The article's poster or possibly editor made up this word in the title. Go Slashdot!

Re:Mesh???? (1)

dharbee (1076687) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758059)

There is more than one definition of "mesh".

You'll notice that nowhere does it say "mesh network".

"Yeah, but how exactly is it a mesh?"

Because two networks are joined together and act as though they were one. See, different definition, perfectly acceptable.

Re:Mesh???? (1)

Anthonares (466582) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758089)

The title of the slashdot article refers to the plain-english use of the word mesh, as in to join two things together for one purpose. This was obvious both in context and in that the word "mesh" was used as a verb. Mesh networking is a noun.

Re:Mesh???? (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758179)

I think the two networks, cell & wi-fi, "mesh". It's not a wi-fi mesh network. Calls can start on one network then get handed over to the other without the call being interrupted.

I still won't buy into the plan (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19757675)

as it still will require a fucking two year contract whether you get a fucking free phone or not. Once they have you they still will give you shitty service like every other American cell phone service den^h^h^h^h provider. What do I mean by shitty service? Dropped calls even when there is full signal strength. It will act as if the signal will go from full to none. When you confront them about it they will tell you to fuck off, we don't have to give you service anymore but you must continue to be our slave. All of the fucktarded CEOs of the fucktarded phone cell phone providers can all go comitt suicide for all I fucking care.

Re:I still won't buy into the plan (1)

sycomonkey (666153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757779)

If you want to pay full price for the phone you do NOT have to sign a contract. I'm not familiar with T-mobile but this is true of every cell phone company I've ever dealt with (I used to sell Sprint and Verizon cell phones). This will generally make the person you are buying the phone from very sad, because they generally make way more money if you sign a contract, but it's not generally required.

Re:I still won't buy into the plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19758027)

There are companies other than AT&T out there, you know. And phones other than iphone.

Slashdot's late to the table once again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19757685)

I saw a commercial about this last night.

I don't see the connection (4, Funny)

SpiffyMarc (590301) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757687)

What does this have to do with the iPhone? I mean, I know the summary says it doesn't have anything to do with the iPhone, but I'm not sure what that means. Did Apple figure out how to do this? Are they working with T-Mobile to roll it out? Are the phones made of white plastic?

Re:I don't see the connection (4, Funny)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757711)

Here's the connection:

It has nothing to do with the iPhone

Re:I don't see the connection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19757821)

Actually, companies are already lining up with "iphone killers"! Just like they did with the ipod!

tag:iphonekiller

Re:I don't see the connection (1)

sogoodsofarsowhat (662830) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758023)

Yeah thats worked out really well for the other mp3 makers...and im sure it will be the same with the competitors to the iphone. Good luck with that...but Apple is a hard opponent to beat.

Re:I don't see the connection (1)

dirkdidit (550955) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757717)

It's a new technology in the cell phone industry that isn't the iPhone or something for the iPhone. That's pretty much the only connection. That and this phone has WiFi capabilities, like the iPhone.

iPhone fatigue (4, Funny)

fistfullast33l (819270) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757881)

Like the rest of the Slashdot community at this point, I decided this summary was worth my time only after I discovered it had nothing to do with the iPhone.

Re:iPhone fatigue (4, Interesting)

abes (82351) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758073)

That is as long as no one points out how it's interesting that Steve Jobs and the head of AT&T were talking about doing VOIP on the iPhone in the eventual future (it's in one of their interviews). Which would then lead to a conversation how this very well could be the eventual future of all cell phones.

Don't worry, though, to save your sanity, I won't mention it.

Re:I don't see the connection (1)

quick9vb (628271) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757907)

The iPhone has WiFi capabilities as well, although I'm not certain it's for voice only...

Re:I don't see the connection (1)

mashade (912744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757925)

Probably the fact that T-Mobile announced this in the midst of the iPhone buzz -- so no one really noticed til now. I saw an ad on TV that really piqued my interest; I actually jumped up and said 'Wow!'. Then I left for vacation and forgot all about it.

The connection is that the iPhone drowned it out to begin with.

Re:I don't see the connection (0, Flamebait)

thuh Freak (725126) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757953)

What does this have to do with the iPhone? I mean, I know the summary says it doesn't have anything to do with the iPhone, but...

Are you retarded, or just really stupid?

Re:I don't see the connection (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757979)

Because David "Acolyte of the High Temple of Mac" Pogue wrote the article.

mark my words... (1)

negaluke (893108) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757689)

the big cell providers will either get with the wi-fi program or die thrashing in nickel-and-dime death-throes.

Meshing? (1)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757695)

How is this Meshing? I was expecting the handsets to talk to each other and form an adhoc wifi network.... now I check the word "mesh" doesn't appear in the article.

Re:Meshing? (2, Interesting)

isaac (2852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757841)

I believe 'meshing' here is referring to the seamless handoff of calls between GSM and WiFi, not that the phones form or use an adhoc WiFi mesh network. Agreed, not the right choice of words.

The real hotness about these phones: you can use them at any wifi hotspot in the world without roaming charges. That's a killer feature.

-Isaac

Question.... (1)

Shadowfoxmi (989969) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757731)

Will I be able to use it using the existing WiFi system in my cell phone? (BTW I have a Nokia N93)

$10/Month? (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757737)

Seems a little steep for being allowed to run a SIP client on a machine I own.

Also, where does 'meshing' come into this? This isn't a mesh network. If it were, then I could route packets from my phone via half a dozen other random users' phones to a hotspot and not need T-Mobile's network at all much of the time.

Re:$10/Month? (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757941)

From what I gather, what you'd be paying for here is transparency: someone calls your cell number, they re-route it via voip if you're in a wi-fi zone. Now, according to the article it should be possible to walk in and out of wifi coverage during a call and not notice a thing, which, if true, is pretty good. Sounds like it will more likely "sort of" work, though.

Nokia 6136 launched in Europe last year. (2, Informative)

fantomas (94850) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757763)

Nokia launched the 6136 last Feb (2006) in Europe:
http://news.zdnet.co.uk/communications/0,100000008 5,39252128,00.htm [zdnet.co.uk]

This does the roaming wifi/GSM stuff as well.

Tested in Oulu, Finland in 2006:
http://www.mobiledia.com/news/49241.html [mobiledia.com]

Anybody know how those tests have gone, what the take up is?

Encryption? (3, Insightful)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757767)

Would hate to work for a fortune 500 company and be talking on this with a co-worker only to have the packets sniffed from some random server in Malaysia on a major pipeline.

Re:Encryption? (1)

nettdata (88196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758019)

Yeah, because after all, it's not like cel calls can be sniffed anyways or anything.

Besides, it's a well established fact that the shortest possible network route is via a pipeline in Malaysia.

Re:Encryption? (2, Funny)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758117)

OK, so you are in Denver. You are talking to someone in Atlanta. The IP traffic routes from Denver to Chicago, down to Dallas, then off to Atlanta. I'm curious how you think that it will make it to Malaysia. If you are thinking that if you are in India and talking to someone in Australia and the packets could be intercepted in Malaysia, I'm curious why you are worried about the IP traffic being funneled through Malaysia, but not someone putting taps on the POTS connections taking the same route. Are you worried about all your unencrypted calls traveling over unknown equipment, or do you just hear "WiFi" and start running around in circles crying "A tinfoil hat, a tinfoil hat, my kingdom for a tinfoil hat."

Re:Encryption? (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758227)

I was just picked a random place. It's not the location that matters but the concept. Unencrypted data going over the internet isn't secure, so if I was using the phone for business purposes and security was an issue this doesn't sound like a nice feature. To me this would be like having a secure wireless line to the net for doing banking transactions, then all of a sudden your laptop finds a wifi and chooses to use it instead of the secure line.

Saying cell phones are insecure is about as true as saying land lines are insecure just because someone could tap into them. But I'd be willing to wager the security threat of someone tapping into your phone line is a lot less likely than someone on a remote workstation on the same routing path you're data is going threw being packet sniffed.

Anyway I'm tired, fireworks are good but not till 4am. ZzzzZzzz.

Re:Encryption? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19758225)

Would hate to work for a fortune 500 company and be talking on this with a co-worker only to have the packets sniffed from some random server in Malaysia on a major pipeline.

Yeah, fuck, T-mobile's cellular network is so secure that NO one could sniff a voice call!

Why $10 extra? (3, Interesting)

crow (16139) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757793)

Why should people pay extra for this? It seems like it should save T-Mobile money by reducing the load on their cell towers (allowing them to reduce their infrastructure costs).

And what about the consumer who isn't short on minutes? Why not offer an option to use it without an extra charge, but still charge minutes?

Re:Why $10 extra? (1, Insightful)

HipPriest (4021) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757873)

You can. Just get a phone that supports UMA and your WiFi calls just use your minutes. The $10 a month is optional, to get unlimited WiFi calling.

Re:Why $10 extra? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19757877)

Because they are a corporation in business to make a profit?

Re:Why $10 extra? (4, Informative)

ad0gg (594412) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758057)

Umm.. You still use tmobiles network. The call doesn't magically travel across the country and terminate at another phone.

Re:Why $10 extra? (1)

sholden (12227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758195)

Which part of "cell towers" are you having trouble understanding?

Re:Why $10 extra? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758121)

Why should people pay extra for this? It seems like it should save T-Mobile money by reducing the load on their cell towers

Are you that naive, or are you being serious?

In the mind of a company, if they give you more, even if it costs them less, they charge you more. Period. If it had no value, then why would they even be offering it? Since it has value, they're selling it.

Everybody wants to monetize everything. Where I live (Ontario, Canada) the provincial governments have kiosks whereby you can renew your license plate stickers, drivers license and health cards in malls. You don't need to go to an actual provincial building, with actual provincial staff, and stand in a line up with other poor sods.

So ... they charge you for the 'convenience' fee of doing it yourself, even though it costs them less (well, they do need to maintain the kiosks).

Nothing is free. Convenience is deemed to be value added, so even if it cuts their overall costs, you pay. Hell, I'm sure if telemarketing companies could get you to personally pay them to not call you, they would do it ... but, I'm sure (for now at least) there would be laws against that. (If you *don't* pay me, I'll keep calling and pestering sounds too much like actual extortion for now. ;-)

Cheers

Re:Why $10 extra? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19758139)

They're probably charging more because if it works well enough, the user will reduce the size of their plan since they won't be using as many minutes along with the fact that they intend for people to drop their regular phone connections in which case, the price of the service would be cheaper than having a regular telephone line.

Re:Why $10 extra? (1)

mashade (912744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758197)

Yes, but T-Mobile still had to build the system that finds your phone at $RANDOM_AP when someone dials your normal number and when you wander out of range of the AP. Also, their network is still in use, though their towers may not necessarily.

Re:Why $10 extra? (4, Insightful)

MaceyHW (832021) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758223)

You pay "extra" because T-Mobile still has to operate a voip server and route your call. But those of us who make lots of calls from an area with wifi coverage can save money by changing to a plan with far fewer minutes and adding the $10 wifi option.

This is an outstanding development if you use your cell as a primary line and you have wifi at home. I hope it delivers as promised!

Re:Why $10 extra? (1)

NeoTerra (986979) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758295)

*marketspeak warning*
People should pay the extra $10 for the immediate revenue we would lose from the non-free calls, as well as to justify our installation of the capability into the phones.
*marketspeak warning over*

The billed items just move from one place to another. And the Regional Directors need new boats, since their current models are getting dusty.

As for the minutes thing, it negates the purpose of having such a system, for the most part.

Re:Why $10 extra? (1)

tji (74570) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758329)

Probably the same reason Vonage charges for their service and calls into the phone network are no longer free on Skype.. It costs them money to connect calls from VoIP into the telephone system. There are obviously big savings for them, but it still costs them money. And, it's a big customer benefit. $10 per month seems like a great price for a way to do unlimited calling.

Phone + AP? (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757833)

This doesnt sound like a mesh. At first thought when I saw the article I imaged each phone acting like a repeater, creating a mesh and thus extending range for a given hotspot. Alas that doesnt appear to be the case.

just watch TV (1)

Nudo (1118587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757857)

There are already commercials about it on TV. And I think I heard of this service before somewhere else. Can't remember...

Re:just watch TV (1)

Smight (1099639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758075)

Fact: Having a huge advertising campaign that includes less then 5 commercials per hour classifies as "quietly announcing."

Seriously, for an extra ten dollars you can expand your pan to include ten times the amount of minutes you'll use in a month.

skype on sda (1)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757865)

If you have not notice people have tried put Skype on their SDA but the cpu on the SDA is somewhat of a limiting factor. It works though.

Re:skype on sda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19757967)

FYI - the latest version of skype mobile works great on the SDA. I have used it to make calls - a slight lag, but the calls dont break up or anything like that. The only limitation right now is that it used the loudspeaker on the phone, so the mic picks it up and results in echo. Have to use a hands-free kit (wired) right now for a good clear call......

Good news, yeah. (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757893)

Not great news, but it's a step in the right direction.

Open Phones (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757931)

This is a tiny step toward the inevitable. With the release of the iPhone, the world has become officially aware that our phones now are little computers without keyboards. From this point, it's only a few tiny steps away until the informed consumer is going to want the ability to treat the phone like a computer, including picking the operating system and any software that goes on it. At that point, having such a "mesh" won't be a news item -- it will be a fact of daily life.

It is available now. (1)

datastew (529152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757957)

A friend here at work said he signed up for this last night. He said the T-mobile person who was getting his details said he was the first person she had signed up for this. The main attraction for him is better reception throughout his house.

International (1)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 7 years ago | (#19757997)

I wonder, will they still rake me over the coals when I want to call Germany? I get the feeling they will. Just like their unlimited sms for only 20 bucks a month...when you get an incoming international sms...50 cents for each one. Fine print always excludes a reason not to be free or unlimited.

Wiretapping? (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758007)

Will wiretapping be an item on the bill, or is it included?

Slasdot: New Products For The Proletariat (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19758021)


while your Dictator [whitehouse.org] steals your country [jihadunspun.com] .

Great Idea, But... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758031)

It's a great idea, but why should you have to pay extra for it? You're saving T-Mobile precious air-time minutes, and paying for the privilege! If you make half your calls from home over your own WiFi broadband connection, you're really overpaying now.

Catagorize this under Rip-Off.

Great idea, but... (1)

typobox43 (677545) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758047)

... wish it worked on more phones. Specifically, it would be nice if they could roll out a software update for the Windows Mobile-based phones (such as my T-Mobile MDA) to be able to use this feature. I'd be all over it then, but as it stands right now, I'd have to buy a new, less featureful phone to be able to use this service.

What are the rules for network preference? (2, Interesting)

Stefanwulf (1032430) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758145)

From TFA:

T-Mobile's billing system isn't smart enough to notice handoffs between Wi-Fi and cellular networks. So each call is billed according to where it begins. You can start a call at home, get in your car, drive away and talk for free until the battery's dead.

The opposite is also true, however; if you begin a call on T-Mobile's cell network and later enter a Wi-Fi hot spot, the call continues to eat up minutes.
One thing I'd want to make certain of is that in the presence of both wifi and a cell network, it _always_ gives preference to the wifi, rather than occasionally deciding that the cell signal is stronger than wifi in my kitchen, and therefore starting on the cell and only switching over to the wifi at a later point. Has anyone seen anything that lays out the rules they use for network preference?

Don't be so pessimistic! (5, Insightful)

Thail (1124331) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758151)

Let me preface the rest by stating I work in T-Mobiles Operations and Engineering Department, and helped alpha test this device. =) When making a Wi-Fi call, the handset creates a GSM tunnel allowing it to maintain the same security used on any normal cellular call you make. So if you're still afraid of people tapping your calls, I recommend that you don't use a cell phone at all. No releasing it at the same time as the iphone doesn't seem like the best bet, however I'm not in marketing ;) One of the major advantages of this over a normal wi-fi phone, is that it will hand over between GSM and Wi-Fi and maintain the call. No other Wi-Fi call provider can offer that at this time (AFAIK). If you buy the phone but not the service, you can still use Wi-Fi but it will use your minutes as normal, the feature just give you unlimited Wi-Fi calls. Will it make calls for T-Mobile cheaper to process? Maybe if enough people start picking it up, but there was an investment in time and added hardware to the network that would need to be paid off first. But in the long run, yes t-mobile should save money as people route calls over IP, however, this savings is passed on to the customer in that they can make all the calls they want for $10 a month. (It's up to the customer to decide if they will use it enough to warrant that cost) Working for T-Mo I think this feature is great, but my opinion is of course biased.

Re:Don't be so pessimistic! (2, Informative)

Thail (1124331) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758251)

ECH... once more with formating.

    Let me preface the rest by stating I work in T-Mobiles Operations and Engineering Department, and helped alpha test this device. =)

    When making a Wi-Fi call, the handset creates a GSM tunnel allowing it to maintain the same security used on any normal cellular call you make. So if you're still afraid of people tapping your calls, I recommend that you don't use a cell phone at all.

    No releasing it at the same time as the iphone doesn't seem like the best bet, however I'm not in marketing ;) One of the major advantages of this over a normal wi-fi phone, is that it will hand over between GSM and Wi-Fi and maintain the call. No other Wi-Fi call provider can offer that at this time (AFAIK).

    If you buy the phone but not the service, you can still use Wi-Fi but it will use your minutes as normal, the feature just give you unlimited Wi-Fi calls.

    Will it make calls for T-Mobile cheaper to process? Maybe if enough people start picking it up, but there was an investment in time and added hardware to the network that would need to be paid off first. But in the long run, yes t-mobile should save money as people route calls over IP, however, this savings is passed on to the customer in that they can make all the calls they want for $10 a month. (It's up to the customer to decide if they will use it enough to warrant that cost)

    Working for T-Mo I think this feature is great, but my opinion is of course biased.

Re:Don't be so pessimistic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19758307)

Does biased mean unformatted?

Share others' routers? (1)

BrotherZeoff (776525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758153)

The article didn't seem to answer this question: if you have the plan, will your phone also automatically work with (i.e., have a built-in password for) residential T-Mobile-supplied routers? That is, if I go near a house or apartment building where someone else uses this service, and uses the router T-Mobile supplies, will my phone react the same way it would if I got near a Starbucks?

arrested for intrusion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19758185)

So you're walking by Starbuck's, and your phone decides to use their network, but you didn't buy your cup of coffee there. Isn't this unauthorized network intrusion and illegal? Like the guy that was arrested for checking his email while he was still out in the parking lot?

Meshing has a plain-English meaning! (2, Insightful)

Anthonares (466582) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758207)

Good grief, from the number of "this isn't a Mesh" posts, it seems like no one is aware that the word "mesh" has a plain-English meaning. That's the great thing about context. When you read the summary, and then TFA, and you don't see mesh, you should think "Oh, they meant mesh in the sense of joining".

Just because a word has a technical meaning for branding purposes, the plain-English meaning isn't somehow superseded or obsolete.

Reverse beige boxing? (1)

British (51765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758229)

Hmmm..

1. Set up wireless AP at my house
2. Wait for WiFI meshing phone to come into range
3. Sniff packet traffic. listen in on calls, or interrupt them. Heck, try to emulate them.
4. profit!

Thank you T-Mobile. You've just given the Phone Losers of America several more years of phun.

"Can you hear me now?"
"ROY!"

Sprint talked about this 1+ yr ago (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758287)

When I was workin' there.

The thing that strikes me, with this T-Mobile deal at least, is that you basically get to help them ease the traffic on their network by using your cable/dsl Internet connection. All while paying T-Mobile for the feature.

How awesome of them.

Big old gotcha, here (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19758319)

It's important to note that the minutes are counted (or not) based solely on how the call originated, not on how it's transmitting now.

You can use this to your advantage, of course, by starting a call within range of your WAP, then continuing it for your half hour commute in your car. Or you can be screwed by it if you take a "quick" call in your car, then get home in three minutes...and talk for another 45 via your wireless network.

Not necessarily a deal-breaker, since it does work both ways - but certainly something to be aware of.
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