T-Mobile Nokia E73 Mode: UMA WiFi calling may be killer functionality
One of the unique features found in the Nokia E73 Mode is the support for calling over WiFi via the T-Mobile UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) network. This support may be a bit confusing and I want to make it clear that UMA is not the same as VoIP with SIP over WiFi. T-Mobile launched their Hotspot @Home service a couple of years ago and I gave it a shot for a few months, but found I rarely made that many calls at home or was outside of great T-Mobile coverage. However, the service can be very valuable for those who travel or are in a low signal area.
I understand the Hotspot @Home service option (now named T-Mobile Unlimited Hotspot Calling) has been canceled. but it is not clear if there is still a UMA optional service you can add. You used to be able to pay $10 per month and make unlimited calls over WiFi with a supported handset. If you did not subscribe to the service you could still take advantage of the UMA service and make calls over WiFi networks with the only cost being minutes against your included plan minutes. This was a great option for travelers who had WiFi access, but no T-Mobile signal. I contacted Nokia and T-Mobile people to try to determine what service options are currently available. Here is the offiical word from T-Mobile USA:
The Nokia E73 Mode offers Wi-Fi calling at no additional cost to the customer. Like Unlimited HotSpot Calling, Wi-Fi Calling provides customers with improved coverage and the ability to reliably replace their landline with a cell phone and have a single number for work and mobile needs. Wi-Fi Calling does not include the unlimited, nationwide calling service plan of Unlimited HotSpot Calling, which is no longer offered as of October 2009.
So, with UMA support on the Nokia E73 Mode you will be able to make calls via WiFi that WILL count against your included plan minutes. I rarely even approach my plan minutes, and doubt most anyone does, so this UMA support will let you make calls when you have no T-Mobile cellular signal. I now wonder if you could use this in a foreign country while traveling if you can connect the device to a WiFi network. I’ll ask T-Mobile about this too and let you know what I find out. Here is the clarification for international travel and calling:
All international calls made using Wi-Fi or wireless networks are charged accordingly for international long distance. Any incidents that allowed customers to place Wi-Fi calls without charge are due to billing anomalies, which T-Mobile has addressed. Customers will be billed accordingly for International calls placed over Wi-Fi.
With the E73 Mode and WiFi turned on I do see the UMA icon in the upper left of the display and calls appear on my bill with a U identifier denoting the call was made over the WiFi network. This UMA support on the E73 Mode is awesome since the only other good UMA phone was a BlackBerry device. With UMA on the E73 Mode you can be assured of making and receiving more calls with good network support thanks to T-Mobile’s cellular network and support for WiFi hotspots.