Better Calling for Less, by Skipping the Cell Network

Phone Smart Better Calling for Less, by Skipping the Cell Network

By BOB TEDESCHI The New York Times February 11, 2010

Few people care whether their calls are carried over a data network, a voice network, copper wires or a piece of string tied to two Dixie cups. Unless, of course, the method doesn't really work.

Like a cell network.

To take a completely hypothetical situation, let's say you own, oh, an iPhone, and you live, oh, in a metropolis that fairly bristles with cell towers. And you adore apps like Shazam and Gilt and Pandora, but you're considerably less sweet on AT&T because it can't carry a simple phone call for more than five minutes.

For the millions of people who might fit into this purely hypothetical situation, there are options that don't involve switching carriers and turning your iPhone into the equivalent of a very costly iPod. All you have to do is find a Wi-Fi hot spot, or create one at home, and simply open up one of the handful of apps that will almost never drop your calls, and will charge you less to boot (especially if you have friends or business overseas).

And if those friends have Fring or iCall or Skype or Gizmo5, too, the calls are free.

A year ago, these services were either tough to download or they didn't work on the iPhone. And even if you could get one onto your phone, the calling experience was sketchy at best. Now these apps are generally easy to find and to download on iPhones and Android devices, and they offer solid user experiences.

For the handful of people who downloaded Gizmo5 last year before Google bought the company and blocked new subscriptions, the service can offer a glimpse into the possible future of phone calling. But even short of that, the apps are a great alternative to cell networks.


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Monty Solomon
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Precisely what I'm planning on. I will be putting a Linksys WRT54G running OpenWRT on a ten foot mast on the roof. Power provided by solar and battery arrangement.

I'll put it in repeater mode for my wifi network and add a couple of gain antennas in the 3 to 5 db range. Point one east, one west with a slight downward inclination since I live on a hill. That covers about half the city.

Add a battery pack to my Touch, plug in a headset and Fring, Fring away. Doesn't cost me a dime other than the cost of the broadband service.

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