HotSpot@Home lets you make cell phone calls over your home WiFi network. Learn how this useful technology integrates seamlessly between two networks.

Image courtesy of T-Mobile

Now that you have a cell phone, why do you keep paying for that landline at home? Probably because your cell phone gets terrible reception inside your house. Cell phones communicate with the nearest cellular tower via radio signals. If your home has aluminum siding or was constructed with thick concrete and rebar, it's harder for the signal to penetrate the walls [source: The-Cell-Phone-Advisor.com].

In June 2007, T-Mobile introduced a new service, called HotSpot@Home, that improves indoor cell-phone reception by allowing users to make and receive cell-phone calls over their home wireless Internet networks (WiFi) in addition to the normal cellular network.

T-Mobile is not the only U.S. cell-phone provider to roll out a merged cellular/WiFi system -- Cincinnati Bell is another [source: GigaOM]. However, T-Mobile is the largest, so we're going to focus our article on the HotSpot@Home service.

Here's what you need to use HotSpot@Home:

  1. A home broadband Internet connection
  2. A qualifying T-Mobile calling plan
  3. A dual-mode cell phone for cellular and WiFi calling
  4. A wireless router that communicates using the 802.11b or 802.11g standard

If you already have an 802.11b/g wireless router, you don't have to buy a new one. If you don't have a router, T-Mobile sells its own wireless routers that are configured to give priority to voice transmissions over data transmissions. This could be helpful if you're downloading a large file while talking on the phone. Your call quality would remain the same and the file would simply take a little longer to download.

Setting up the HotSpot@Home service is very simple:

  1. Plug the wireless router into your broadband cable or DSL connection
  2. Plug the router into a power source
  3. Turn on your dual-mode cell phone

Instantly, the cell phone should recognize and join the home wireless network [source: Phone Scoop]. This is indicated by a symbol in the top-left corner of the cell phone screen. WiFi signal strength is indicated by a small orange ball with radio waves emanating to the right. The more waves, the stronger the signal.

Now that you're connected, let's go over how to use the HotSpot@Home service.