AT&T is testing its new 3G MicroCell service in select markets. The 3G MicroCell allows one to have a 3G access point in their home. This should yield 5-bar coverage in places where AT&T’s coverage is spotty. The device requires a broadband connection of some sort and will support up to 4 simultaneous phones.

According to TUAW, the device is rumored to retail for about $150 and there will be no monthly subscription charges.

There has been no shortage of complaints about AT&T’s wireless service lately. Perhaps this is AT&T’s answer to those problems. Too bad it will cost AT&T customers more money and only benefit them when they are near their 3G access point.

via The Unofficial Apple Weblog

T-Mobile would have been better served by holding off on announcements for a couple weeks. Lately, its been all iPhone all the time and there is little anyone can do to get people to line up outside of their stores short of giving iPhones away for free. Nonetheless, T-Mobile’s new cellular/Wi-Fi service Hotspot @Home, is kind of a big deal.

For an introductory rate of $10 per month, T-Mobile customers with one of T-Mobile’s hotspot ready and a wireless broadband connection at home can ditch their land line (or VoIP) phone. The phone will work seamlessly on either the Wi-Fi or cellular network so calls that start on either network can continue on the other. Wi-Fi minutes are unlimited and free regardless of what hotspot is used. As a bonus, all of T-Mobile’s hotspots are free for phone calls with this plan.

For many people this could be a great deal. Anyone who maintains a phone at home because cellular coverage is poor or nonexistent in their abode will be a natural for this. People that spend a fair amount of their time within range of some sort of Wi-Fi will also find this useful. As the article referenced below points out, globetrotters could also get big savings over international roaming charges with this service.

Hotspot @Home can be added to any qualifying T-Mobile plan. Qualifying appears to mean any plan that costs $39.99 or more per month. If you don’t have a wireless router at home, T-Mobile will set you up with one almost for free (rebate involved). There are only a few hotspot ready phone models available from T-Mobile at this time, but that is likely to change.

This is certainly not an iPhone killer. Cingular, however, could learn something here. If they don’t already have something like this in the works, they should. The iPhone already moves from cellular networks to Wi-Fi for data connections, it does not seem like that much of a stretch to do the same for voice.

via The New York Times

Podlinez will play the most recent episode of any podcast on any phone. Each podcast is assigned a phone number. When it is dialed, the podcast starts playing after a short announcement. Nice work, if anyone from Podlinez happens to be reading, here are a few unsolicited feature requests:

  • A searchable directory. 15 pages of podcasts are a lot to sort through. One should not have to enter the full feed URL of the podcast on the home page to see if it is already listed either.
  • A mobile accessible directory. Podlinz will really shine when one has some time to kill while not near a computer. An optimized site for mobile browsers, some form of search that uses SMS or even a audio directory would be great.
  • Keep more than just the last episode of a podcast on hand.

Good luck!

via Lifehacker

Bluephone, a new service from BT, will allow a user to make Voice over IP calls with bluetooth while at home or otherwise in the presence of a bluetooth base station. When they are not near a base station, the phone will switch over to the GSM cellular network. All of this is going to work seamlessly and be totally transparent to the user of course (I’m only being a slightly sarcastic here). Motorola and NEC appear to be working on the same sort of thing using Wi-fi instead of bluetooth.

via Gizmodo and Gizmodo

Gizmodo is pointing to a study that states that drivers who admit to using cell phones while driving are more apt to be distracted even when they are not using their mobile. This seems to indicate that there is some sort of “distracted-driver personality”. Not a big surprise.

Here is an excerpt:

When compared to drivers who do not talk on cell phones, drivers who use cell phones are 56% more likely to be distracted behind the wheel while thinking about what to eat; 36% more likely to be distracted thinking about relationship issues; 32% more likely to be distracted when thinking about their jobs; 27% more likely to be distracted when thinking about health concerns; 21% more likely to be distracted when thinking about family issues, and 19% more likely to be distracted when thinking about money issues or bills.

I’m thinking that when asked at least 90% of these people would clasify themselves as “Excellent Multi-taskers”, then be distracted by thoughts of food, relationships or money before you could ask another question.

Previous rant on cellphone usage while driving: Tele-taxi