Phone Home Don’t you wish your company could be as good at creating "buzz" as Apple is? Every time a new product is introduced, in this case the iPhone, everyone goes crazy, the publicity is almost non-stop. Heck, one would think the iPhone was almost as important as the comings and goings of Paris Hilton! I am not one of those who will quickly go out and get the iPhone, although I do have to admit it sure sounds neat. The first reviews are glowing as to the unit itself and the great user interface it has (something the cable industry sorely needs to improve upon), even if they are also highly critical of the AT&T system and the painfully slow service to the wonderful phone/computer. What caught my eye, however, in all this hype, was another story about a service provider as opposed to a specific, neat new phone. T-Mobile, apparently appreciating that everyone was going to be talking about the new iPhone and AT&T, decided to announce a new little wrinkle of it’s own. They are selling a new service with two new phones that switch back and forth from a Wi-Fi connection to a cell phone connection automatically. That way, when you are on the road, the cell phone is working, but when you are at home where the signal may not be as good, the phone automatically switches to your home WiFi device and the call is completed through the Internet. Now for lots of people that may not create much of a "wow" factor. But for me, I would have to say it is right up there with the iPhone. You see, the reason I wasn’t interested in getting one of those expensive new beauties was that we get no cell phone signal where I live. Nothing. Nada. Yes, if I walk out in the driveway (I only live about 35 minutes outside of DC!) and hold my phone high in the air I may be able to get one or two bars, but that’s it. Get close to the house, and it’s gone. Same is true for most of my neighbors. So we don’t give out our cell phone numbers much. They are good for making calls when on the road. But folks can’t reach me reliably, so the phone has limited usefulness. I don’t think I am alone. I would love to use my phone at home, or at least not be worried that I was missing calls from folks who didn’t know they couldn’t reach me on that phone. The T-Mobile solution of switching back and forth between the cell network and the cable modem/internet network solves the problem… and there is no reason in the world why the cable industry can’t take major advantage of that. I am not just talking about the Pivot service that some of the largest operators are now starting to roll out, which I understand will have a similar capability. I’m talking about cutting deals with other cell phone suppliers to tout that "home phone" service for them, too. Samsung, apparently, is coming out with a special home "cell" in the near future as well. It all reminds me of when cable was talking to the cell phone folks about "mini cells" strung on our plant, dropping the signal right into the coax. Well, it’s happening, and I think it could be accomplished in several different ways, all of which would help consumers and improve our services. How about starting our own "buzz" about the ability to "phone home."

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