T-MOBILE TO GO

The new T-Mobile HotSpot phone makes unlimited, free Wi-Fi calls when you’re near a T-Mobile HotSpot in the United States, and becomes a regular cell phone when you’re not. T-Mobile is the Internet service used by many cafes and coffee shops that advertise free Wi-Fi hookups. Sit with your coffee and cake, and browse the Web or call your uncle Max.

You can create your own hot spot at home by using a wireless router. If you don’t have one, T-Mobile offers a Linksys router for $50, and a $50 rebate makes it free. You can have your home or office number assigned to the T-Mobile phone, and it then becomes your regular phone. You can then dump your old land-line phone and its monthly bill, and many people have.

Here’s a trick: The T-Mobile service only knows where you started your call, not where you go. If you start your call at a T-Mobile HotSpot, thenĀ T-Mobile Hot Spot Phonego off in your car, all your minutes are still free. Joy started a call at Starbucks and was still talking to Bob from inside the public library, many blocks away. When she hung up that call, she lost her Wi-Fi connection, and the phone was a regular cell phone again, but a few blocks later, when she called Bob again, the phone found a new T-Mobile HotSpot and automatically reconnected to that network.

T-Mobile isn’t as cheap as making Skype, Google Talk and other Internet calls, if you call internationally. Wi-Fi calls to countries outside the United States won’t count against your minutes, but you will be charged international long-distance rates. For now, the HotSpot phone doesn’t work at international HotSpot locations.

The Web site for this isĀ TheOnlyPhoneYouNeed.com. This is where you buy the T-Mobile phones for $50 and sign up for the “basic plus” T-Mobile service for $30 a month. If you’re already a T-Mobile customer, the HotSpot service costs an additional $10 a month. Rates for businesses or heavy use are listed on the Web site.

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