Phone home, cell callers

Forwarding: A new gadget from Cingular enables calls to a cellular phone to be switched to a home or business landline.

October 09, 2003|By Kevin E. Washington | Kevin E. Washington,SUN STAFF

Personal gadget writers love to slam devices that seem to be solutions in search of a problem, but there is no greater thrill than to find a technological answer to a longtime problem. Cingular Wireless' new FastForward cradle and service is one of those wonderful answers that has reached the hands of gadget lovers after a company comes up with an innovative solution to a costly problem.

If you have a home-based business and use a cellular telephone for work and want to save precious minutes, the best thing you can do is give out your home number and cell number with instructions on when to call a specific number.

This is a hassle.

Cingular, aware that we don't want to use up precious cell phone minutes when we have access to a landline, has designed a device to forward cellular telephone calls to a landline at home or in an office.

This appears to be a perfect gadget for Realtors and other people who do business on a cellular telephone in the field, then want to switch from the cellular telephone to a landline when they've landed in their office.

The $39.99 cradle went on sale Oct. 1. The cradle works only with Cingular Wireless service (although it will work with any landline service), but it is hard to imagine that other wireless companies won't offer the same sort of devices and services in the next few years.

A Cingular Wireless customer with a FastForward device can get unlimited incoming wireless calls forwarded to his landline phone in the local area, without the minutes counting against his monthly wireless calling plan, for $2.99 per month.

If you don't care about using up your cellular minutes, you need not purchase the $2.99-per-month service plan.

If you live in an area with landline service offered by BellSouth or SBC's telephone companies, you might not have to pay the extra $2.99 monthly, depending on the type of service plan you have.

Setting up the FastForward device couldn't be simpler. Each device is geared to a specific manufacturer's telephones. Devices available now work with some Motorola and Nokia cellular phones. The one I tested worked with Motorola telephones. I was required to go into the cellular telephone's menu to forward the cell to my landline, after punching in my landline number with the designation of CF1. (You can put in up to three telephone numbers to forward calls to, in case you want the service for office and home.)

You must plug the cradle into an electrical outlet. Plug your cellular phone into the cradle and look for the "Forward" light to come on. You're set after that.

FastForward is well thought-out, too, for people who still want to use their cellular telephones to make calls. For example, if you want to make a call, you needn't cancel the forwarding. Just pick up your cell phone and dial out, and when you're done, stick it back in the cradle to await any call back that will be forwarded to your landline.

Another neat extra is that when someone calls you, his caller ID registers only your cell phone number. If you have a home office but don't want to share your home number, you can give out your cell phone number and have clients and others call the cellular telephone, but still chat with them on your landline without their learning your landline number.

When you're ready to take your cellular telephone with you, you punch a button on the device to cancel the calls. And your cell phone is ready to roll.

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