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Report: T-Mobile Planning Vo-Fi Service

Rumor has it that T-Mobile is prepping the nationwide launch of a Wi-Fi service that would let customers use the technology to make voice calls with their cell phones. HotSpot @ Home, which is currently in trials in Seattle, would expand on the carrier's current Wi-Fi network of 8,000 Internet access hotspots. T-Mobile declined to comment on the rumors, which probably means the America's fourth-largest carrier has something up its sleeve.

According to reports, when a caller approaches a hotspot while on the phone, his or her call will transfer automatically to Wi-Fi from the carrier's regular network. The transfer is supposed to be instantaneous with no noticeable interruption. Of course, customers will need a dual-mode Wi-Fi/cellular handset like the Samsung SGH-T709. Although the T709 came out last year with T-Mobile branding, we haven't seen any further sign of the phone in months.

Wi-Fi voice calls could improve overall call quality, but other carriers have shied away from the technology because it could help customers avoid going over their monthly allotment of minutes. T-Mobile is tackling the issue head on by charging customers in the Seattle trial an additional $20 per month. That's pricey, yes, but it could be economical if you play the numbers correctly.

T-Mobile seems to have a lot in the hopper in 2007. The Wall Street Journal is speculating that HotSpot @ Home will tie in with the company's planned 3G launch, which is expected this year as well. T-Mobile is only major carrier not to offer 3G, but we know it's hard at work at something considering it snapped up $4.2 billion in wireless spectrum at an FCC auction last year.
Dave Molta
Contributing Editor

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