An Unexepected Benefit Of My SIP-to-Cellular Gateway

blackberry-bold-9700-2It’s been a while since I installed the little Portech MV-370 GSM gateway. It sits in the office IT stack and does what it does. When I’m traveling it lets me call home using my unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes. It also backs up our IP-based home & office phones. If both the Comcast Cable modem and Covad DSL are out the we can route calls out via T-Mobile.

The Gigaset cordless phones support enough accounts that this is easy, just add #6 to the number to specify dial using the GSM trunk. The GSM gateway is the 6th account on the Gigasets. We don’t even need a local Asterisk system to make it possible.

Remembering back to the installation of the GSM gateway, I converted my T-Mobile account from an individual plan to a family plan, with the gateway device becoming the second line on the account. I dropped my number of minutes but the monthly carrying cost was the same. It seems like a good idea since the use of mobile-to-mobile minutes to call home was going to reduce my need for minutes in the end.

As I was looking into replacing my aged Blackberry Pearl handset the T-Mobile customer service rep told me that I was eligible for a handset upgrade, meaning that I could get a deal on a new handset by renewing the contract for another two years. Further, he said, “my wife” would soon be eligible as well! My wife doesn’t have a personal cell phone. Her cell phone, a Blackberry Curve, is issued by her employer. Then it dawned on me, the SIM in the gateway, corresponding to “my wife’s phone” may entitle me to another discounted handset!

So, as I sit here just before the annual-American-feast-of-fowl and survey the Black Friday bargains to come, I may well jump on the Blackberry Bold 9700. It’s supposed to be offered for $150 tomorrow, with a renewal. I may be able to do this and still have a the ability to get a discounted Android phone when T-Mobile offers a more compelling handset.

I still need to double-check this, but this is what I’ve been told so far.

  • Greg

    Speaking of cellular gateways… I was at Fry’s today and noticed a GE Bluetooth Cellular Gateway for sale at $14.99… I had seen mixed reviews on Amazon… but for that price, I couldnt resist.

    I have to say, I am very happy with my purchase. Both my wifes phone and mine connect to the gateway throughout the house, and the call quality through the Gigaset A580 is very clear.

    I set up dialing plans to be able to make outgoing calls using the gateway if the cable modem goes out… and of course the gigaset rings anytime one of our cellphones receive a call.

    • Greg,

      That’s pretty cool, and certainly a great deal at that price. Now you can get a third line added to your account and a plain vanilla (Bluetooth capable) cell phone to leave at home permanently. Then it would be a full time backup plan. But perhaps that’s unnecessary for you.

      Back when I was thinking about using cellular access as a way to back up my voip phones I considered a similar device. It was around $150, which made the dedicated SIP-GSM gateway at $250 look more sensible for us. Back then I was trying to make my local Asterisk server use it as a trunk, something that we don’t need any longer. The Gigasets call it directly.

  • I ended up buying the Blackberry Bold2 at the promo price of $150. It was simply the nicest hardware that they had to offer. The newer Android handsets didn’t have a real keyboard, which is something that I really wanted.

    I also confirmed that given my family plan I can get a second handset at the renewal promo discount at a later time. So I can get a nice Android handset when T-Mo has something more interesting to offer in that regard.

  • We have many family members on Blackberry phones (across multiple networks). One of the things keeping me on Blackberry is the closed access to their messenger service. 🙁 But I guess that’s a plus in their book.

    • It’s only been a couple of days, but I’m really liking the 9700 so far. I’m made calls using the wifi/uma from my hotel & office. That’s less appealing that it would be if they didn’t count against your monthly allocation of minutes.

      Seemsmic for Blackberry has been good as well.