T-Mobile has just rolled out a service called HotSpot @Home that allows you to use a WiFi-enabled cell phone to make calls via a wireless network. You'll still use the phone with regular cellular airwaves while on the move, but once you're in range of a T-Mobile Hotspot or a pre-configured WiFi access point, the phone will know to automatically switch over. The best part? Call minutes made via WiFi aren't deducted from your plan. That's right -- as long as you're within range of a wireless broadband network, you'll have unlimited calls. An added benefit to this is that you're almost guaranteed great signal strength when you're in a place with good WiFi coverage. And since T-Mobile is providing special T-Mobile configured D-Link and Linksys wireless routers that offer optimal @Home coverage, you might as well say Sayonara to that old-fashioned landline at home.
Compatible handsets at launch are the Samsung T409 and the Nokia 6086, which cost $49.99 each with a contract. When you sign up with the service, you'll get one of the aforementioned wireless routers for free after rebate, but any 802.11b-compatible router should work. The service is an additional $9.99 per month on top of your existing T-Mobile plan, and an additional $19.99 per month on family plans that have up to five handsets. Personally, I think it's a pretty cool idea, though I don't know if such a service will make up for the fact that T-Mobile has yet to roll out a proper 3G service like the rest of its competitors. We currently have the Samsung t409 plus a Hotspot-configured Linksys router in house, and will let you know what we think of it soon.