T-Mobile will start providing a customized Wi-Fi router to subscribers that prioritizes voice calls over other packets. The device, called the T-Mobile Personal CellSpot, will require a $25 deposit and can work alongside an existing household router.
The announcement was made at a [company]T-Mobile[/company] Uncarrier event in San Francisco on Wednesday, where the carrier also announced that it planned to activate Wi-Fi calling and VoLTE for all postpaid customers on its network. That’s due to new Wi-Fi calling capabilities in iOS 8, which Apple officially announced with the iPhone 6 on Tuesday.
New phones will have the ability to make Wi-Fi calls and texts on T-Mobile out of the box, and older devices will get an over-the-air update that enables the service. T-Mobile will offer subscribers with older, incompatible devices a deal through its Jump upgrade program.
Phones that support unlicensed mobile calling (UMA) have had Wi-Fi calling capabilities on T-Mobile since 2008, and Wi-Fi calls have not counted against subscriber minutes since 2011. Some Android devices have already been making Wi-Fi calls on T-Mobile for years. But since Apple announced UMA support in iOS earlier this week, it’s a great opportunity for T-Mobile to tout its Wi-Fi calling bonafides.
In fact, T-Mobile tried a very similar tactic in 2007. Called Hotspot@Home, the $10 per month service promised free and unlimited voice-over-IP calls through a T-Mobile branded Linksys or D-Link router, but it was shuttered in 2010. One of its problems was glitchy handoffs between Wi-Fi and cell, but there’s been a lot of progress made in that department.
The T-Mobile Personal CellSpot, available September 17, will be made by Asus, and will be truly private — other T-Mobile subscribers won’t be able to use it unless they know your Wi-Fi password. T-Mobile says that the device comes with “unique patent pending technology” that prioritizes HD voice calls over other traffic.