By: CARL BIALIK
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
For people looking to cut the cord come Nov. 24, one gadget may make the process easier.
On Monday the Federal Communications Commission officially gave the go-ahead for consumers to switch their home-phone numbers to their cellphones, in a move expected to spur more consumers to dump their landline services entirely. But several factors could hold back some potential switchers, including bad service in spots inside the home and frustration that a mobile handset may be out of reach while charging.
A device expected to be available before number-portability rules take effect could help address those concerns. Dubbed Dock-N-Talk, the cradle-like device holds and charges a cellphone. After it's hooked up to a phone jack, users can make and receive calls from all landline phones in the home. One big selling point: The gadget can be hooked up where wireless coverage is best, and then users can benefit from that coverage throughout the home.
"There's nothing that would distinguish landline service from wireless service if you use our device," said Carl Lopp, president of Phone Labs Inc., the closely held Bridgeport, Conn., company that makes the device. "The advantages are tremendous. You don't have to spend $50 or $60 a month for landline."
There is one major caveat, though: The product can replace landlines for voice calls, but may not work with data features like faxes and dial-up Internet access. Also, subscribers to high-speed Internet services through their landlines would have to find other means of connecting.
Mr. Lopp said the product will be available for $139.99 on the company's Web site (www.phonelabs.com) by Nov. 24, and could be available in some retail stores by that date, though he declined to name them. He also said some wireless carriers may sell the device in their retail stores. The device works with over 150 handset models, Mr. Lopp said.
Dock-N-Talk initially was supposed to hit stores in July (see article), but manufacturing problems from the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome in China delayed the launch, Mr. Lopp said. Several publications, including the Financial Times and Laptop Magazine, have given the product positive reviews.
If consumers do decide to hang on to their landline phones, Dock-N-Talk promises to allow customers to toggle between wireless and landline service to take advantage of differing fees -- by allowing, for instance, all calls to go through the wireless network during nights and weekends...