Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Android Communications IOS Network Networking Software The Internet Hardware

T-Mobile's 'Digits' Program Revamps the Phone Number (arstechnica.com) 51

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: T-Mobile has announced the launch of its "Digits" program, coming May 31. Digits is a revamp of how T-Mobile phone numbers work, virtualizing customer numbers so they can work across multiple devices. It sounds a lot like Google Voice -- rather than having a phone number tied to a single SIM card or a device, numbers are now account-based, and you can "log in" to your phone number on several devices. T-Mobile says the new phone number system will work "across virtually all connected devices," allowing multiple phones, tablets, and PCs to get texts and calls. This means T-Mobile needs apps across all those platforms, with the press release citing "native seamless integration" in Samsung Android phones, Android and iOS apps, and a browser interface for PCs. The new phone number system is free to all T-Mobile customers. Customers can also buy an extra phone number for $10 or by signing up to the $5-per-month "T-Mobile One Plus" package, which is a bundle of extra features like a mobile hotspot and in-flight Wi-Fi.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

T-Mobile's 'Digits' Program Revamps the Phone Number

Comments Filter:
  • Would rather (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @05:10PM (#54487613)

    I would much rather the effort go into:

    1) Preventing phone number spoofing.

    2) Adding caller ID with name (really, we have had this on land lines for how many decades now?)

    3) Blocking spam callers with full end-user control (like settings for do NOT allow going to voicemail either, white lists, challenge suspected spam calls with voice prompts, etc)

    • To be fair, TMobile do pretty well at 2 and do a decent job of 3 (though without end user control).

      I'm not sure 1 is within their domain.

    • Re:Would rather (Score:4, Informative)

      by Mousit ( 646085 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @06:56PM (#54488123)
      The first one is certainly a widespread problem with the telephone system in general, and yeah they really need to fix that shit.

      2) Adding caller ID with name (really, we have had this on land lines for how many decades now?)

      This is, and has been, available for cellular, right from the start of Caller ID. It simply hasn't been used. I don't know why cell providers didn't default to using the Name, but it was always available for them to do so. Naturally, cellular companies eventually saw a chance at yet another money grab, so for some years now it's been readily available from the big companies (T-Mobile included) as "Caller ID Name" or similar. It is, of course, an optional add-on feature which costs an extra monthly fee, because of course it fucking is.

      3) Blocking spam callers with full end-user control..

      This is already partially available on T-Mobile, called Scam Blocker. It's free. It's only got two options though. Either you receive the call but it is marked in Caller ID (using Caller ID Name!) as "Scam Likely" or your other option is to turn on an outright block, and the scam call never goes through to you at all (not even to voicemail). T-Mobile's documentation about it says the caller does receive a message that they've been blocked. Unfortunately that's all the control you have over this scam/spam blocking feature.

      • >"This is already partially available on T-Mobile, called Scam Blocker. It's free."

        Cool, thanks for the info. I just turned on that option. Their help stuff doesn't really say much technical info about how it works (is it crowd-sourced, is it centralized, does it include telemarketers and robocallers, etc).

        And I never noticed they had caller ID, probably just ignored it since they want to charge $4 a month. Yeesh. They call it "Name ID"

        • by Mousit ( 646085 )

          ...their help stuff doesn't really say much technical info about how it works...

          There is this press release [t-mobile.com] which talks a little bit about it. It's a real-time database of known scammer numbers (they say it's a global list, so it's probably something available to industry and not solely their own) compared and maintained through heuristics analysis and other "patent-pending technologies" whatever that means. That's about as detailed as the release gets, but there's at least a little info in it, for whatever that's worth.

          It seems to be focused almost entirely on scam calls. I doub

          • I use Google Voice and get maybe 1-2 nuisance callers a month. I wonder if this is coincidence or if perhaps your number is in numerous marketing databases? I've had the same number since Google Voice was in beta... now you have me wondering.
    • This may not be the top of my priority list, but I do think it's something that needs to happen. Increasingly, the voice services on cell networks are basically just VoIP running over the data services. The two should be decoupled. You should be able to buy a "dumb pipe" data connection without any other service. You should be able to set the default phone application to use a different VoIP account. In reality, tying phone and messaging services to your cellular data provider no longer makes any more

      • by Sique ( 173459 )

        You should be able to buy a "dumb pipe" data connection without any other service.

        Here around this is called a "data stick". You get a SIM card and an USB stick, which provides an UMTS/LTE-connection to any device you plug the USB stick in. You can also put the SIM-card in whatever other device you want. My company laptop for instance comes with a builtin SIM card, so I can get online as soon as I have UMTS or LTE. If you put the SIM-card in a smartphone, you can install any VoIP app you want to use it.

        • My point is more that, you shouldn't need to install special VoIP apps or have additional hardware. It should get to the point where, for example, an iPhone is simply an iPod Touch with a cellular data plan, and nothing else particularly special about it. Verizon and T-Mobile can offer VoIP/messaging services, but they should be sold completely independently of cell phone service, and those services should be portable to any device.

          Tying the products together is simply anti-competitive behavior.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        What's probably hobbling this somewhat is the handset maker and wireless carrier relationship. The handset maker wants to be available in the carrier market, but the carrier wants the handset to be as exclusive to their service and use as many services as possible.

        FWIW, I think Apple iOS has supposedly been getting better about VoIP apps integrating with the "phone" functionality to allow incoming VoIP calls to be treated by the user interface about the same as native carrier voice calls.

        But it's still not

        • What's probably hobbling this somewhat is the handset maker and wireless carrier relationship.

          I wouldn't say "somewhat". That's one of the big problems here. It's not just that cell phone manufacturers want their products to be available, or that they want their products to be compatible with a given network. They can pretty much do that on their own. The real key is, they want the carriers to actively sell their products. Apple and Samsung want it so, when you go into a Verizon or T-Mobile store (whether it's brick-and-morter or a website), their phones are displayed prominently. They want ca

  • they've re-invented Cisco's Jabber. Whee.

  • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Thursday May 25, 2017 @05:58PM (#54487867)
    This sounds like a convenience, but it may also have the added benefit of completely ruining two-factor authentication. If an attacker can add his device to your account, and receive texts that are intended for you, then he can use 2FA and really ruin your life!
  • I moved to T-Mobile a couple of years ago because they're much cheaper, and AT&T wouldn't release my old number. That was painful since I had had that previous number for over two decades. Then I found-out that T-Mobile doesn't have coverage over much of downtown Seattle so I had to switch yet again. Again, T-Mobile, like AT&T, wouldn't release my old number. I had to change numbers yet again. We need the FCC to enforce number portability. My sister is a lawyer for CenturyLink, and she's said

    • by Anonymous Coward

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_number_portability [wikipedia.org]

      We're supposed to have portability, but I can't ever remember hearing about someone that successfully fought to keep their phone number after changing cell providers. My son works at an AT&T store, and he said they fight like hell to not port numbers because it helps keep customers. Of course, the other cell providers do the same back since AT&T does that to them. It's a feedback loop.

      Personally, it sucked losing my Sprint number I had had sin

      • We're supposed to have portability, but I can't ever remember hearing about someone that successfully fought to keep their phone number after changing cell providers.

        My current cell phone number started on Verizon, went to T-Mobile around 2003, was ported to AT&T when we switched around 2006, and then went back to T-Mobile when we switched back in 2013.

        The only one who was problematic was AT&T - they required that I know my account number which was different than the number used in billing, and could not be looked up! Eventually I tracked down some special phone number... I had to call and answer a bunch of questions, and at the end the dude told me my apparentl

      • by tippen ( 704534 )
        I moved 5 lines from AT&T to T-Mobile last year and zero problems with porting the lines over.
    • I moved to T-Mobile a couple of years ago because they're much cheaper, and AT&T wouldn't release my old number. That was painful since I had had that previous number for over two decades. Then I found-out that T-Mobile doesn't have coverage over much of downtown Seattle so I had to switch yet again. Again, T-Mobile, like AT&T, wouldn't release my old number. I had to change numbers yet again. We need the FCC to enforce number portability. My sister is a lawyer for CenturyLink, and she's said that she has never heard of a phone company fined for their refusal to make their numbers portable. It's sad how after even eight years of Obama's rule, he didn't do a damn thing to fix this problem.

      Switched to T-Mobile back in 2013; no issue with having AT&T relinquish the number to them. Had the same number since 2004.

  • We said stop tracking us.

    And we meant it.

Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.

Working...