Thursday, August 02, 2007

Phone Phun

Mother Stumbler sent me an email last week, showing me the announcement that T-Mobile was introducing a new service to permit phone calls over wi-fi hot spots. This is of particular interest to me here in Korea, since I spend a lot of time on the phone to the USA. It turns out with this plan, a wi-fi phone here in my apartment will function just as if it is in America, giving me unlimited outgoing and incoming calls to/from American numbers for only $10/month. That is quite a deal.

Coicidentally, it was time to add a phone line to my T-Mobile family plan for YS#3, so I took advantage of this opportunity to mix things up and added this wi-fi calling plan. After some complicated logistics involving shipping of cell phones back and forth across the Pacific Ocean, I ended up with the Nokia wi-fi cell phone and a new wireless router here in Seoul, and YS#3 ended up with a formerly top-of-the-line Samsung slider phone.

I have waited to make this post, hoping to have a positive report. Alas, my experience has been quite frustrating. On Monday, the first time I tried to use the phone, it would not connect. I spent awhile with tech support, and they gave me a few things to check out. Meanwhile, in the afternoon I discovered that the phone was connected! Unfortunately, it was 1:30am in America, so I couldn't go on a calling spree. Instead, I checked my voice mail and sent myself a text message from the computer, both of which were successful. That evening, when the time was better for calling, I discovered that the phone was disconnected again and would not re-connect. It has not connected again since. I've spent quite some time on the phone with tech support, and my problem has been sent to a "level 3 engineering team" (!!!) to resolve. They are telling me that the problem is in their network, and is not my equipment or setup, so I guess that's reassuring. I don't want to think how I would get a phone repaired that is from a Finland company, made in Hungary, sold in the USA, and is being used in Korea.

I do realize this is a brand new service, and I'm using it in an unusual manner (although one that was promoted in the newspaper articles). On the positive side, there are several reports of people having successfully used this setup from overseas. At least two I've read about have been from China and Costa Rica. I hope to have it up and running soon.... real soon now....

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