Join gaming leaders, alongside GamesBeat and Facebook Gaming, for their 2nd Annual GamesBeat & Facebook Gaming Summit | GamesBeat: Into the Metaverse 2 this upcoming January 25-27, 2022. Learn more about the event. 


T-Mobile devotees are in for a treat tonight, as the carrier has confirmed that it will be making its popular Wi-Fi calling feature on supported Android phones completely free — meaning it won’t continue to use up any cellular minutes.

But while it’s certainly great news for T-Mobile customers, free Wi-Fi calling is likely one of many features that will get dropped if AT&T’s $39 billion merger with the carrier goes through.

T-Mobile announced last October that it would bring the Wi-Fi calling feature to Android phones after making it available on select BlackBerry devices for some time. It’s been rumored for a while that T-Mobile would make Wi-Fi calling free, but today Kineto Wireless, the company that powers the feature, confirmed that it’s actually happening. T-Mobile swiftly acknowledged the news in a statement to GigaOm, saying that it will be offered to Even More and Even More Plus plan subscribers.

Kineto uses UMA technology to turn wireless hotspots into extensions of T-Mobile’s network. That allows T-Mobile’s phones to seamlessly jump to your home Wi-Fi network when you’re in range. It’s a smart way to extend cellular reception, since pretty much everyone has a Wi-Fi network at home these days. It’s also a more elegant solution than AT&T’s 3G Microcell (and other similar femtocell devices), which now costs $199 (up from $149!) and eats up cellular minutes.

But of course, you can bet AT&T will put a stop to this elegant feature if regulatory agencies approve its T-Mobile deal. AT&T has made it clear that it will consolidate its network with T-Mobile’s over time, which means Wi-Fi calling and other cool aspects of T-Mobile’s network — including its cheap $15 tethering and plans for ultra-fast HSPA+ speeds — will get killed off.

T-Mobile, the smallest of the four major US carriers, is offering these features as a way entice customers from its bigger competitors. But once it becomes part of the AT&T borg, there simply is no reason to keep them around. Hopefully, regulators are considering this as they determine if the deal is actually in the public interest.

For now, I suggest you take advantage of these features while they last. I’m even considering getting the lust-worthy Galaxy S II on T-Mobile myself — at least, whenever Samsung gets around to announcing that beauty on US shores.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact. Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:
  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more
Become a member