A few weeks back, T-Mobile rolled out a new broadband-based landline-replacement service in Dallas and Seattle test markets, allowing customers to port their landlines to their T-Mobile account then pay $10 per month for unlimited calling via a special router. Here's a glimpse of the router, a modified Linksys, with Ethernet jacks and two phone jacks, plus internal slots for two SIM cards. It's a good deal, and will be cool for many people when it rolls out this summer, but there are things you need to know:
• SIMs used for landlines can't—or rather shouldn't—be used in cellphones, since they may not work, and if they do work they will rack up a la carte charges.
• The reverse is also true: you can't use your cellphone SIM in an @Home router because it won't have the appropriate E911 information, and won't be configured correctly. (The second SIM slot and jack are for a second line, but not your cellphone as originally suspected.)
• People who have a landline just for their fax will be sad to hear, faxes are not compatible with the @Home landline service at this time. Engineers are working on it, but for now it's not an option.
• You need to be spending at least $40 per month to add on the $10-per-month landline replacement.
• One wonders what a DSL provider might think of this setup. If memory serves, some DSL providers require you to pay for landline service anyway, so check with your broadband provider before switching—you may even be able to strike a deal.
Stay tuned for the national rollout, and actual product tests, in the late spring or summer. [T-Mobile Hotspot @Home]