Last Monday, noticed a red light on my Sunrocket Gizmo signaling a problem with the service. After a quick search on the net it became clear that Sunrocket had shutdown its service without notifying users. You can still use the service by rebooting the Gizmo, however nobody knows how long that will last.
I feel I was one of the lucky ones, my 1 year contract was suppose to end at the beginning of August. I was to get 3 months free which would take me to the beginning of November. I have read many posts where individuals had almost a full year left.
It is really too bad they ran out of money, the service was reliable and the connection quality had gotten better and better. Now I needed to decide on how to proceed. The number of VOIP providers has grown and many are giving deals to Sunrocket customers. With the lawsuits and onslaught from the cable companies VOIP is a tough market. Costs have been creeping up slowly and the major providers such as Vonage, AT&T and Verizon are charging $24.95 a month. I do not want to take the chance with a small provider. Since I have been testing T-Mobile's HotSpot@Home service, I decided that this was the cheapest (among major carriers) and safest alternative. Unfortunately HotSpots@Home is not yet available on Windows Mobile, so I had to get another line and a Samsung T-409. This is fine since it is a line for my business. The current cost is $9.99 for the line (add on to Family plan) and $9.99 for HotSpot@Home ($19.99 for all the lines in a family plan). Cheaper than the major VOIP providers. Yes, it is more expensive than Sunrocket but this is the price you pay for corporate stability. It seems clear that VOIP providers offering the $199 per year plan are selling the service at an unsustainable price point.
With this approach I have three issues I need solve:
- Porting my Sunrocket number to T-Mobile. I called customer service, they were aware of the Sunrocket situation (to my amazement) and were happy to help. They made the request to port the number over one of my T-Mobile assigned numbers. It was interesting to note that my Sunrocket number was actually owned by Global Crossing. It can take up to ten days, I will update this post when it happens.
- Faxes. I seldom use the fax, but it is nice to have. Outbound fax is easy since I can use the land line connected to my alarm system. Inbound is more problematic, with Sunrocket I had a second number with distinctive ring. The VentaFax software would recognize the distinctive ring, receive the fax and email me a .pdf. This a great solution. Unfortunately since the HotSpot@Home service is cell based, I no longer have this option. I will try to find a free fax services or purchase a box which recognizes fax signals on my land line. The box then switches the connection to the computer and VentaFax can take the call.
- Using the phones throughout the house. We own a Phonelabs Dock-N-Talk which connects a cell phone via Bluetooth the house phones. This works well with cell technology, however when you throw in a WIFI connection (same 2.4GHZ frequency as Bluetooth) for UMA, the connection is not 100% reliable. It works, unfortunately sometimes the connection can get dropped. This means carrying the phone around the house. This works for me, but my wife is still getting used the idea. I may try Phonelabs 2nd generation Bluetooth unit to see if that helps. Another option would be for T-Mobile to offer a UMA Terminal Adapter to plug in the phones you have at home. The terminal adapter would become active when the UMA compatible cell phone was connected to the home network.
I think this is the best long term solution for us, although it is a work in progress. Long term it would be nice to go from 4 numbers (2 each for my wife and I) down to 2. With a UMA terminal adapter and Windows Mobile compatibility that would be possible.