T-Mobile is beginning consumer trials of a new service that will allow customers to use their phone numbers on virtually any Internet-connected device, and to add multiple phone numbers to a single mobile phone.
The Internet-based service, dubbed Digits, prioritizes calls over other data to provide what T-Mobile promised will be carrier-grade wireless calling with HD voice quality and full mobility.
The service is compatible with unlocked phones and those of rival carriers, and also allows users to make and take calls and texts, and access messages, voicemail and call history from any Internet-connected device, including tablets, wearables and computers.
Digits can eliminate the need for separate business and personal phones, and can save businesses money by replacing office landline phones, the carrier said. More than 30 million Americans carry multiple devices and pay for multiple plans, costing U.S. wireless customers an extra $10 billion annually, the company said, citing CTIA and third-party data.
“Phones today are nothing like they were just a decade ago,” said president/CEO John Legere, “but the phone number has basically stayed the same forever. It’s time to shake things up!”
Years in development, the service uses a proprietary technology that sidetracks traditional network authentication through SIM cards to give users their own identity through an entirely new IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) service management layer and Identity Management solution.
“Our team dug deep into the technology needed to free us from the one number, one phone limit,” said chief technology officer Neville Ray. “And to do it right, we built a solution into the core of our network” — protected by a patent-pending IP — “that breaks all the old telco rules.”
Digits is already built natively into Samsung Note5, Galaxy S6 and later models through a joint development effort between Samsung and T-Mobile, and the carrier is working with other device makers to integrate the service natively into their devices. Until then, Digits is available through an app on Apple’s App Store and Google Play as well as via browsers on PCs or Mac computers.
T-Mobile has begun enlisting current customers to trial the program for free in what it calls “the first time a major U.S. mobile carrier debuted a new technology through a beta program.”
Cost for the service was not disclosed.