Sprint’s newest gadget lets you route mobile calls over a wired phone

You may have cut the cord on your home landline, but if you’re like me, you might sometimes get a little nostalgic for the wired telephone. I’m not talking about some kind of retro lifestyle choice; I’m talking about convenience.

There’s something to be said for the coil-corded phone hanging on the wall in the kitchen or the cordless handset resting in its cradle on the living room side table: they’re always within arms reach of where you’re sitting or working at home and, unlike your mobile phone, you always know where they are. I can’t count the number of calls I have missed at home while hunting for my smartphone — digging through jacket pockets and peeking under magazines as I try to home in on the sound of my ringer.

Well, Sprint has started selling a gadget for people like me. The newest version of its Phone Connect residential voice router has a Bluetooth radio that connects to your smartphone much the same way a phone links to a Bluetooth headset. Instead of projecting a call into your ear canal though, it projects calls to all of your household phones.

Sprint's Phone Connect 3 Terminal (Source: Sprint)
Sprint’s Phone Connect 3 Terminal (Source: Sprint)

So when someone calls your mobile number, not only does your smartphone ring, but so do all of the phone extensions in your home. It works with any standard telephone, and you only need to pick up the nearest handset to answer the call.

Sprint is including this as a feature enhancement to its Sprint’s Phone Connect program, which is designed to replace your copper phone line (or digital cable VoIP service) with a wireless link from Sprint. The idea is that you still separate home and mobile numbers, but both numbers route to your household handsets when home is where you happen to be.

Sprint confirmed it’s not a requirement to get a home phone number and pay for the $20 monthly service plan (it includes unlimited local and long-distance calling). You can just buy the terminal hardware and use it as a kind of switchboard for up to two mobile phone accounts. But the voice router’s price is rather steep at $150, while companies like V-Tech and Panasonic make much cheaper versions.

The technology that powers this kind of crossover calling has been around for some time. What’s new is Sprint is selling it directly, and it makes me wonder why other mobile carriers don’t do the same.

Increasingly people no longer see the point in paying for two separate phone lines and maintaining two — or often three — separate phone identities. But there are still a bunch of us old-fashioned folks who would rather talk on traditional phone as we go about our domestic lives. Why upsell customers on this dying concept of the home phone? Mobile carriers should be doing the opposite: selling them the gear that will replicate the home phone experience over their mobile connections.

Instead of trying to replicate the physical phone line with a wireless one, carriers should be convincing us to cut it entirely.