07/17/11 10:51 PM
Use Wi-Fi for all mobile calls

I'm thinking of changing my calling paradigm to one of Wi-Fi calling. Here are the basic steps:
1. Move to one of the many new Wi-Fi enabled devices that are flooding the market.
2. Go with a small tablet form factor or even a large phone factor.
3. Pick-up a mobile Hot-Spot.
4. Use Google talk or Skype to make the calls

Then use the Hot-Spot to run all the Wi-Fi enabled devices and make all phone calls using Wi-Fi.

A) Is anyone else considering this?
B) What are some recommendations for the Wi-Fi phone (small tablet, Wi-Fi phone, which brand, etc.)
C) What are some recommendations for the Hot-Spot (T-Mobile's, Verizons, Sprint's, etc.)
D) What are some recommendations for the software (Google Talk? Skype?, etc)

(Head Honcho)
07/18/11 03:54 AM
Re: Use Wi-Fi for all mobile calls

I'm not sure VoIP calling on mobile phones and tablets is strong enough yet to count on it replacing a cell voice line. Call quality isn't always as good (depends on your hotspot and WiFi signal), and presence isn't as reliable as a phone's (sometimes the client goes offline or away when you don't expect it).

Gtalk for voice and video calling works on 10.1" Android Honeycomb tablets, but for Android OS Froyo and Gingerbread (except the Nexus S right now), it's IM only. Skype is a better bet, or other VoIP apps like Fring (though I'm not in love with Fring). Skype does provide calling to landline numbers but you have to pay, only Skype-to-Skype is free. Your potential money savings might go down the drain.

The HP TouchPad actually has a very robust Skype implementation, but I don't know if you want to use a 9.7" tablet as your phone.

As for the best hotspot, much of that depends on what kind of coverage and services are available in your area. Verizon's LTE simply rocks, but only if you have LTE in your area. T-Mobile's HSPA+ 4G is very strong in my area, but their coverage might not be good in yours.

Another option might be a T-Mobile 4G phone with wifi calling (a built-in feature). That doesn't use your plan minutes but you'll use your existing cell phone number, which is convenient when others call you. Recent phones like the HTC Sensation 4G and MyTouch Slide 4G have this feature. You could go with a data plan (required anyway) and a very low monthly minute plan and use WiFi for calling whenever possible.

07/21/11 07:13 PM
Re: Use Wi-Fi for all mobile calls

Thanks for the reply Lisa - very helpful. BTW, I had just purchased an HTC Sensation a couple of days before my post on 7/17 (in large part due to your review). I just checked with T-Mobile about their Wi-Fi calling. They have a kind of strange procedure - where when you turn on Wi-Fi it gives a message saying that it uses minutes from your plan. So I called them to understand why they would do this. The person on the other end - indicated that it doesn't use plans from your minutes if you are "properly" connected to the Internet. They have no FAQ or document on what "proplery' means. They indicated that as of now the only way to tell is to make your Wi-Fi calls and then check your minutes using #646# to see if usage increased.

I do wish that you could use your Sensation as a Hot-Spot and use that Hot-Spot to make calls from your Sensation (I guess it kind-of makes sense that you can't, otherwise the phone would have to recognize it's own W-Fi signal. However, I would imagine this should be possible if engineeered properly, i.e. have separate Wi-Fi and phone radios)

As for Hot-Spots - after much thought and research - I decided to go with T-Mobile's. The primary reason is coverage. I hate that the carriers are ripping us off for data with these new Tiered plans. So if I have to pay - I'd rather pay for something that has more coverage and fairly high reliability - right now that is T-Mobile. I would go with Sprint's unlimited plan but for now their coverage of the country is not as extensive as T-Mobile's and their Wi-Max has too many issues with coverage inside of buildings, etc.

(Head Honcho)
07/24/11 10:23 PM
Re: Use Wi-Fi for all mobile calls

One indicator that your WiFi calls aren't using data is the default behavior of WiFi calling when you turn it on, it turns off the cellular radio. The indicator in the homescreen top menubar shows that the phone radio is off.

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