T-Mobile announces new UMA 'landline'

T-Mobile has announced an addition to its Hotspot@Home service with the Talk Forever Home Phone add-on plan which comes with the WRTU54G wireless router geared toward the fixed, home user, utilizing the company's UMA technology.

At a cost of $10 per month (plus taxes and fees), the plan includes: unlimited nationwide calling, call forwarding, 3-way conferencing, voice mail, hold, and call waiting. Signup requires an existing T-Mobile single line plan of $39.99 or more, or family plan of $49.99 or more.

Vonage, arguably the most recognizable name in VoIP, offers unlimited domestic calling plans for a monthly fee of $24.99 a month with no prior contracts required, and offers the same feature list. The main difference between the two services, however, is that T-Mobile's system is not true VoIP.

T-Mobile's HotSpot@Home solution uses a technology called UMA (unlicensed mobile access), which attempts to preserve the characteristics of a traditional GSM call. Some actually refer to it as "GSM over IP." The original deployment of this technology, in June of 2007, was meant to give the mobile user a steady connection while at home, but required an 802.11-compatible device to properly connect.

This router broadcasts a 5.8 GHz signal so that standard wireless telephones can pick up and connect. Based upon the popular WRT54G Linksys wireless router, T-Mobile's unit is optimized for voice calling, shifting bandwidth to prioritize voice traffic over data.

Initial deployments of this service will be in Dallas, Texas, and Seattle, Washington.

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