In a recent T-Mobile announcement, a new service has been introduced called WiFi Unleashed. The new service allows for TMobile WiFi calling and texting over the nearest wifi connection. This push for use of the wifi networks in addition to its cell phone towers will help to not only address T-Mobile’s capacity problems but make customers happier with increased connectivity options for calls and text messaging.
It appears that T-Mobile is taking a note from the Republic Wireless playbook who has already been offering a service and phones with its own unique WiFi handover technology. This type of wifi calling and texting is one of the big reasons that Republic has been able to offer such low prices on its different plans. No doubt the other carriers like T-Mobile are realizing that there are efficiency gains to be made by taking advantage of the vast number of Wi-Fi connections that surround most people on a daily basis.
The WiFi calling feature is available to any T-Mobile customer so long as they have a phone with that capability, which is not many at the moment. It is for this reason that T-Mobile has made a push to get customers to upgrade their current phones to a new wifi enabled phone by offering a guaranteed trade-in value that beats their competitors as mentioned in the following quote:
If you do find a better trade-in offer from AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint, we will beat it and payout the difference, plus for a limited time we’ll give you $50, so you can trade up to the new device you want today.
In addition to the new WiFi enabled phones that T-Mobile is offering, they are also making available something called the personal CellSpot which is claimed to be like a T-Mobile tower right in your home. The idea behind it is that it will allow you to max out your network coverage even when you are out of reach of a T-Mobile tower.
To me, the CellSpot sounds like a glorified WiFi router except only used for one’s phone. At first thought, I’d say something like this would be unnecessary if you already have wifi in your own home, but it does appear that T-Mobile is offering the CellSpot for free to existing customers if they pay a $25 deposit.
I think the idea behind giving out these CellSpot devices is to encourage the actually wifi calling in places where most people use their phones which is in their own homes. Thus this ends up saving T-Mobile money and network capacity by piggybacking off of people’s broadband connections. It’s a good idea, but it’d be even better if they actually passed those savings on to customers like Republic Wireless does.
In-Flight Texting with GoGo
Finally, T-Mobile has also announced that they have partnered with GoGo an inflight Internet provider on a number of airlines to provide free inflight texting for T-Mobile customers. So rather than not being able to use your phone at all while flying through the air at 30,000 feet, you could now send text messages.
However, this texting inflight with GoGo could possibly be more of a hassle than it’s worth, since it does require a number of things to work like having a WiFi & GoGo enabled phone, having a valid E911 address on file with T-Mobile, and when using iPhones both sender and receiver of text messages need to enable SMS only (as opposed to iMessage) capability.