Should Apple have partnered with T-Mobile?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by PCM, Jul 5, 2007.

  1. PCM macrumors regular

    Mar 6, 2005
    And just think how amazing the iphone would be with this technology (since it's already wifi enabled). Did anyone read this today? It was promising enough for me to cancel my iphone order to see how this all pans out. T-mobile may possibly be onto the future of cell phones as we know it, especially with a nationwide wifi network under proposal:

    From today's NYTimes:


    Man, oh man. How’d you like to have been a PR person making a cellphone announcement last week, just as the iPhone storm struck? You’d have had all the impact of a gnat in a hurricane.

    But hard to believe though it may be, T-Mobile did make an announcement last week. And even harder to believe, its new product may be as game-changing as Apple’s.

    It’s called T-Mobile HotSpot @Home, and it’s absolutely ingenious. It could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year, and yet enrich T-Mobile at the same time. In the cellphone world, win-win plays like that are extremely rare.

    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.

    These phones hand off your calls from Wi-Fi network to cell network seamlessly and automatically, without a single crackle or pop to punctuate the switch. As you walk out of a hot spot, fewer and fewer Wi-Fi signal bars appear on the screen, until — blink! — the T-Mobile network bars replace them. (The handoff as you move in the opposite direction, from the cell network into a hot spot, is also seamless, but takes slightly longer, about a minute.)

    O.K., but how often are you in a Wi-Fi hot spot? With this plan, about 14 hours a day. T-Mobile gives you a wireless router (transmitter) for your house — also free, after a $50 rebate. Connect it to your high-speed Internet modem, and in about a minute, you’ve got a wireless home network. Your computer can use it to surf the Web wirelessly — and now all of your home phone calls are free.

    You know how people never seem to have good phone reception in their homes? How they have to huddle next to a window to make calls? That’s all over now. The free router is like a little T-Mobile cell tower right in your house.

    Truth is, the HotSpot @Home phones work with any Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) router, including one you may already have. But T-Mobile’s routers, manufactured by D-Link and Linksys, have three advantages.

    First, you turn on the router’s encryption — to keep neighbors off your network — by pressing one button, rather than having to fool with passwords. Second, these routers give priority to calls, so that computer downloads won’t degrade your call quality. Third, T-Mobile’s routers greatly extend the phone’s battery life. The routers say, in gadgetese, “I’m here for you, any time,” just once, rather than requiring the phone to issue little Wi-Fi “Are you there?” pings every couple of minutes.

    T-Mobile was already a price leader in the cellphone game. But the HotSpot @Home program can be extremely economical, in four ways.

    SAVING NO. 1 It’s not just your calls at home that are free; you may also get free calls at your office, friends’ houses, library, coffee shops and so on — wherever Wi-Fi is available. You can access both unprotected and password-protected Wi-Fi networks (you just enter the password on the phone’s keypad).

    The phone has a built-in Search for Networks feature. Once you select a wireless network, the phone memorizes it. The next time you’re in that hot spot, you’re connected silently and automatically.

    There’s one big limitation to all this freeness: these phones can’t get onto any hot spot that require you to log in on a Web page (to enter a credit card number, for example). Unfortunately, this restriction rules out most airports and many hotel rooms.

    There’s one exception — or, rather, 8,500 of them: T-Mobile’s archipelago of hot spots at Starbucks, Borders and other public places. In these places you encounter neither the fee nor the Web-page sign-in that you would encounter if you were using a laptop; the words “T-Mobile Hot Spot” simply appear at the top of your screen, and you can start making free calls.

    The cool part is that, depending on how many calls you can make in hot spots, the Wi-Fi feature might permit you to choose a much less expensive calling plan. If you’re a heavy talker, you might switch, for example, from T-Mobile’s $100 plan (2,500 minutes) to its $40 plan (1,000 minutes). Even factoring in the $10 HotSpot @Home fee, you’d still save $600 a year.
  2. apfhex macrumors 68030


    Aug 8, 2006
    Northern California
    But, I'm not sure, mightn't the technology require a special chip in the phone too?

    This would be a huge deal for people who can't get reception in their homes. I would think/hope AT&T will come out with a similar feature at some point too though.
  3. After G macrumors 68000

    After G

    Aug 27, 2003
    Who's to say Apple won't release an iPhone software update to do this sort of thing in the iPhone? All the hardware is there, it's just up to AT&T to finish their end...
  4. AppleIntelRock macrumors 65816


    Aug 14, 2006
    T-Mobile?!?!? BAHAHA. They're a nice little company... but service is spotty... and data... is an even bigger joke then w/ AT&T
  5. After G macrumors 68000

    After G

    Aug 27, 2003
    Actually T-mo and AT&T share a lot of towers. I do agree that data is a joke though, at least where I live. I lived on GPRS for 1 week while waiting for my newly installed internet service. It was not good - like dialup + lag.
  6. AppleIntelRock macrumors 65816


    Aug 14, 2006
    T-Mobile and AT&T don't share as many towers as you think... T-Mobile is independently expanding faster then you may think.
  7. iMeowbot macrumors G3


    Aug 30, 2003
    The WiFi is already there. If the rest of the I/O was kept general enough to allow it, the difference could possibly be bridged in software.

    These hybrid phones are already in use in some markets, so this isn't something that would have taken Apple or any other handset maker by surprise really.

    Still, T wouldn't have been a very good partner for Apple for the reason that this service is being rolled out: their native coverage is the weakest of the national carriers. Too many customers would be roaming on the AT&T network anyway.
  8. opticalserenity macrumors 6502a

    Apr 14, 2007
    It would have been really cool if even though we are on AT&T, T-Mobile worked as well...
  9. mashoutposse macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2003
    Read that yesterday... awesome idea. I especially like the free WiFi calls from abroad.
  10. lou2000 macrumors newbie


    Apr 14, 2007
    San Mateo, Ca
    maybe later

    Great idea. I looked it up and I would so rather have an iPhone than a DAsh. Maybe later if Apple or AT&T feels they need a sales boost.... I think we will see more stuff like this if/when sales slow down.
  11. marksman macrumors 603


    Jun 4, 2007
    It is pretty cool.

    People need to understand the future is wifi and wifi derivatives, not cell networks.

    Ultimately "cell" phones will just be wifi devices doing VOIP.
  12. iStrat macrumors member

    Jul 5, 2007
    New York
  13. Rojo macrumors 65816


    Sep 26, 2006
    This is a fantastic and exciting idea!

    To answer the OP, I don't think Apple should have partnered with T-Mobile, but I'm hoping T-Mobile's move will pressure AT&T to do something similar.

    The only thing I regret is that T-Mobile has hotspots at Starbucks. Considering how much time I spend at them to feed my soy chai addiction, it'd be nice to have free wifi in those locations. ;) But I don't see myself ever going to T-Mobile just for that...
  14. PCM thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 6, 2005
    exactly, and this is the reason I've chosen to hold off. It's not a technological decision with AT&T, but rather a business decision, and one I don't know if they will make. I read an article some time ago about the death of cellular companies as we know them due to wide range wifi (expensive contractual plans, early termination fees, bad customer service, etc.).

    I really hope AT&T considers this and gets ahead of the curve like T-mobile.
  15. diamond.g macrumors 603


    Mar 20, 2007
    Slashdot has a blurb on the T-Moble thing. One of the posters there claimed that making a call over wifi takes about 100 packets per second. When adding more phones you run into the problem of the wifi routers not being able to handle that much traffic and shutting down, or the call being degraded.
  16. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
  17. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    This might lead to problems in hotspots, but it is still ideal for home use in areas with spotty coverage, in basements, etc.

    The WiFi call ability isn't new, but the carrier support of the switching is fantastic.

    It was bound to come - more and more businesses are demanding it - but it's still nice to see.
  18. Diode macrumors 68020


    Apr 15, 2004
    Washington DC
    I remember reading a interview a bit ago on endgadget where Steve Jobs hinted AT&T would be doing the same thing.

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