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What's in my pocket?

Posted by brinkley on August 6, 2007 at 2:40 PM PDT

A Nokia 6086 Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) phone that I've just started testing and I could not be happier.

UMA phones allow a seamless transfer between WiFi VOIP calls and traditional cellular networks. Walk into a place that has WiFi and there is good chance that the phone will switch over to the WiFi VOIP without dropping your call. When you leave you'll be back on the cellular network.

Truth is I've been searching for a new phone ever since my old carrier decided to charge me over $500 for mobile to mobile minutes I made while my father was sick in the hospital. From that day on I started searching for a new provider and the right equipment. It's taken almost 2 years but I think I finally have a winner.

What makes this phone I winner for me is the ability to use it at home. I don't live in the sticks, but then again it isn't the middle of city either. We've got lots of trees and hills and the cell tower is just too far away. One or two bars max when your upstairs but if I descend into "the cave" (my wife's term) in the basement I can forget getting any reception. That is until now.

Now I've got 4 bars because now I am using the WiFi VOIP. I can talk in the basement and it is as clear as standing under a cell tower. In fact it's better because WiFi VOIP calls with this carries are free (with a minimal monthly charge). This next week I'll be switching over all my business calls to my cell phone. Since I'm a remote commuter that will further reduce my costs.

And it doesn't just work at home but anyplace where there WiFi is available. Yesterday morning on the way into the church I was explaining how this works to my son. Low and behold the church has a free wireless connection so I hooked it up. Before the services got started I fired it up by checking my voice mail. Crystal clear 4 bars in the middle of a meddle building. Wahoo!!!! Course I need to make sure I go silent once everything starts. Hello? God? Sorry about that! Silent mode, right!!!!

This WiFi connection has another advantage for me. Now when I travel overseas or even to Canada or Mexico I might not have to take another phone along and use a local number. I can call home with my US number and won't be charged for the call if I'm using WiFi. And of course the reverse is true, I can receive calls as well. Even Skype which is only 2 cents a minute isn't that cheap and I can't receive calls on it.

Downsides? Yeah a couple. You have to set up the WiFi connections. The carrier does have several connections automatically setup in airports and coffee shops but it might not be in the airport your in or the coffee shop you frequent. But it really isn't that hard. I set up the church in less than 20 seconds.

Another downside was I had to replace my NetGear wireless router with the Linksys WRT54G-TM wireless router. The NetGear router would just kill everything connected when a call came in. But on the upside I was able to move my NetGear router upstairs as a wireless access point and let me tell you everyone using wireless devices upstairs is really happy now with the internet speed. One machine went from about 25Mps to 108Mps in the move.

Of course making the NetGear WGT624 into a wireless access point wasn't an easy task. It's full of pitfalls which I'll cover in another blog. It took a lot test guessing before I was able to make it work. Enough that I'll do a write up if anyone else is interested.

Oh and one last thing. The phone does run Java ME MIDP 2.0!!! So I can run all the ME applications that I find necessary for my life.

Your mileage will vary with this phone but all in all it has really been a good experience for my and my clan thus far.