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A few years back when mobile phones really had become commodity items I started asking a question that seemed mind numbingly obvious – why can’t I have a phone that uses a mobile network when I’m out and about, but functions as a landline phone when I’m at home? Unfortunately that question went unanswered, no matter how many network operators I talked to, or landline providers I quizzed. But as Dylan once said, the times they are a-changin’.
It comes as no surprise that it’s BT that is finally offering the solution that I had craved for so long, but the implementation is not exactly as I had expected. Rather than a mobile phone switching from using a GSM network to using a landline network, BT’s Fusion product becomes a VoIP phone once you get home.
Fusion comes as a bundle. You get a choice of two mobile handsets, both from Motorola – you’ll probably go for the V3 Razr just because it looks so much better than the V560. You also get a wireless router with a two port Ethernet switch. There’s also Bluetooth built into the router, since this is how it communicates with the handset.
The complete bundle is free, although you do have to sign up for a minimum 12 month contract. The contracts work in a very similar way to standard mobile phone contracts – there’s BT Fusion 100, 200 and 400 with each package offering a different total of free voice minutes per month. You can purchase each package on a 12 or 18 month contract – if you go for a 12 month you get the first six months at half price, while if you opt for an 18 month contract the first year is half price. Each package also comes in two flavours, the standard version and a slightly more expensive option which gives you free evening and weekend calls to UK landlines.
I’m going to base this review on the BT Fusion 200 Evening and Weekend Plan with an 18 month contract. This means that for the first 12 months you’ll be paying £14.99 per month, which will increase to £30 per month thereafter. You also get three months BT Broadband free, whether you’re a new customer or an existing one – and there lies one of the problems with BT Fusion.
As mentioned above, when you’re at home Fusion routes its calls over your broadband connection, but the package will only work if you have BT Broadband. So, if you already have broadband installed at home from another ISP, you can forget about getting Fusion. Of course you could switch to BT Broadband, but that’s assuming that you’re out of contract – plus every one of BT’s broadband packages have a download cap, so if you’re in the habit of downloading loads of music, video or data (legally of course) you probably won’t want to switch to BT Broadband.