T-Mobile’s New Service Gives Users More Freedom Over Numbers

T-Mobile (NYSE:PCS) has launched a new service called Digits that gives users much more freedom with their phone numbers than before. T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert announced the project saying, “Since the beginning of telephones, one number has been tied to one phone. Since GSM came out, that number was seared into that SIM chip. We’ve changed everything today.”

Digits lets customers use one phone number across all their connected devices. The company said in its press release, “You can make and take calls and texts on whatever device is most convenient.” The numbers carry their voicemail and texts with them, and users will be able to move texting threads between devices.

Digits also offers T-Mobile customers multiple numbers on the same device, allowing them to swap between personal and work numbers. T-Mobile says, “Businesses can give their employees Digits to use on their personal smartphones, even if those phones are on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.” T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray stated that Digits numbers carry the same security precautions as any other T-Mobile line.

A single Digits number can also be set up to ring multiple people at once. Customers can also use a temporary number that forwards to their devices like any other call for situations where they might be hesitant to give someone their primary number. According to T-Mobile’s promotional video, customers can have multiple numbers for whatever purposes they want.

Digits will launch in a limited, opt-in customer beta beginning today. The company intends to roll the feature out to everyone early next year. Digits will cost an extra monthly fee when it leaves beta, but the amount of the charge has not yet been revealed. Sievert said that it will be less expensive than adding a new line to your account.

To try Digits, customers will need a postpaid T-Mobile account and a device running Android 5.0 and above, iOS 9 and above. It will also be available on Macs and PCs via Chrome and Firefox on the desktop. Ray said, “This solution will work across pretty much anything. I’d almost go so far as to say any consumer electronics device.” However, Digits doesn’t currently work with iMessage, so iPhones with Digits will need to use standard texting with iMessage turned off.

Digits will use standard carrier voice calling and texting, which is higher quality than purely data-based solutions. Support for Digits is already built into the dialer on the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7, as well as the Note 5. The company will work to integrate Digits into other phones’ dialers in the future. Feature phones without smart capabilities can be added to a Digits number through a Web interface.