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T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi Calling, An Epic Shakespearean Love Story

Many things can be said of T-Mobile in this day and age.  You definitely can’t start any article about the carrier without mentioning the impending acquisition by AT&T looming ominously over the horizon.  However, they have always had excellent customer service, great phones, low priced calling/data plans and this funky little feature known as UMA or Wi-Fi Calling.  Wi-Fi calling was T-Mobile’s answer to every other wireless company’s femtocell devices.  As every other company was forcing their customers to pay $200 to get service in dead zones, T-Mobile was handing it out for free to anyone who can get in range of a Wi-Fi signal.  And recently, all calls made from a Wi-Fi signal are free!  For me, living in a dead zone in the middle of a well populated suburban area where there shouldn’t be one, it was love at first sight!

At first it was only available to users of BlackBerry devices which had a built in chip that allowed users to connect to Wi-Fi networks and make calls, affectionately dubbed, Universal Media Access or UMA calling.  More recently, the folks over at Kineto Wireless enabled T-Mobile to offer the same service to users of Android phones via T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi Calling app that is built into all of its new Google-powered phones.  The only supposed difference between the original hardware based UMA calling and the new app based Wi-Fi Calling is that calls cannot be handed off between Wi-Fi signals and wireless signals.  But between you and me, as a user of UMA calling for two years on my BlackBerry, call handoff between Wi-Fi and wireless signals never worked for me.

The upside of this service was phenomenal.  I was able to make local calls from any Wi-Fi network, around the world!  Recently, I was on an international trip with about 60 other students in my MBA program, and while they were trying to fiddle with Skype to contact their families, I was making direct calls to my wife and son at home from whatever Wi-Fi signal I could find.  In the two years that I had T-Mobile service on my BlackBerry, in my deadzone house, I never had a problem making and receiving calls through my home wireless network and always enjoyed 4 glorious bars of UMA service.

I signed up with T-Mobile in 2009, right when iPhones were really taking off, but I was happy with my increasingly obsolete BlackBerry because I was paying a fraction of the cost of those cultish iPhone users and getting service at my house without paying for a femtocell.  But as my two year contract slowly and agonizingly ran out, I began to covet the huge HD screens and super cool apps and games that my friends kept showing off to me on their iPhones and Android phones.  I decided I simply had to have a new Android phone and jumped on the HTC Sensation as soon as it was released, I mean, Wi-Fi calling was now available on all Android phones, what could go wrong?

And as every Shakespearean tragedy goes, so too does my story.  After two weeks of slightly less than perfect Wi-Fi calling service (The signal strength around my house wasn’t quite as strong as BlackBerry’s UMA calling, and apparently the app requires a minimum signal to even work), the app decided to stop connecting to the right T-Mobile service and I have been blacked out at my house ever since.  More than 10 calls to tech support, nine tech support personnel across three divisions, three trips to T-Mobile stores, five Wi-Fi Signals/touters, four different phones, five different SIM cards, prowling numerous tech support sites, and more than 30 hours over the last four weeks spent trying to fix this problem, no solution has been found.  I am still unable to access Wi-Fi calling and I keep getting the same error – “W005.2 ISP Error Retry”.

So that is where my tragic love affair with T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi calling stands, it’s like being in a problematic relationship that once had so much passion and you don’t break up because of all the fond memories you once had.

I know these to be true:

  1. It’s not the phone – Tried 6 different ones.  And saw other people’s SIM cards in my phone working.
  2. It’s not the SIM Card – It’s been replaced 5 times already.
  3. It’s not the router or Wi-Fi Network – I have the same problem at home, school, Starbucks and at the T-Mobile Store.
  4. W005.2 ISP Error tells me and the Tech Support people at T-Mobile nothing about how to fix this problem.
  5. The Wi-Fi Calling App is trying to contact the following dead IP address “n00.w0..t-mobilesgws.com” and no the two dots are not a typo.
  6. The phone is connecting to the Wi-Fi Networks and I am able to surf the Web through it.

Is anyone else out there experiencing this problem?  Please leave comments if you are.  I am ready to renew love for T-Mobile if we can just get through this rough patch.

This article was submitted by Danny Yao, and has been edited only for spelling, grammar and punctuation. Any opinions expressed in a User Submitted article are solely those of the author and do not reflect that of TechnoBuffalo.com, its management, employees or its advertisers.

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