The news is that T-Mobile is rolling out a three-tiered HotSpot @Home strategy:
• First, there's a pair of $49.99 phones, the Samsung t409 and the Nokia 6086, that can jump from the cellular GSM network to the Wi-Fi network in your home or Starbucks then back again.
• Next, T-Mobile is giving anyone who signs up a free D-Link or Linksys router that can be a standalone wireless hub for your home, or an add-on to your network that makes Wi-Fi calling more reliable and less of a drain on the phone's battery.
• Finally, it's $10 per month extra for the service, unlimited calls originating from a Wi-Fi hotspot, even if you walk out the door and the call is handed off to the cellular network.
I say this is T-Mobile's long delayed attempt to make good on its Wi-Fi overzeal. I know for a fact that this is something they have been trying to pull off for years, and that the handoff on a cheap little phone is more of a trick than the handoff on a smartphone, not that that's super easy. But three or four years is a long time to wait just to hear that I can buy a special phone to save cash when I'm at home or in a Starbucks, especially when T-Mobile's regular rates are noticeably lower than the heftier competition.
A dear colleague of mine thinks it's a "loser's play," the last chance that the network with no high-speed data service (and no iPhone for its EDGE network) has to get attention. Either way, it's a hell of a week to try and sell it. What it really needs is a test, and that hasn't happened yet, at least not here at the Giz. Stay tuned, and we'll let you know how it feels. For now, check out the press release:
T-Mobile Introduces Unlimited Calling Over Wi-Fi with the National Launch of T-Mobile HotSpot @Home
Consumers Get Great Coverage Plus Unlimited Nationwide Calling From Home with a New Service that Supports Calls Over Both Wi-Fi and T-Mobile's Robust Wireless Network
BELLEVUE, Wash. - June 27, 2007 - T-Mobile USA, Inc. today announces the national launch of T-Mobile HotSpot@Home, a ground-breaking new wireless service designed to provide people with one phone for all of their home and mobile calling needs.
T-Mobile HotSpot @Home helps people stay connected with those who matter most by combining the power of Wi-Fi (wireless Internet) and T-Mobile's nationwide voice and data network While at home, customers can enjoy great mobile coverage and unlimited domestic calling over Wi-Fi; while mobile, customers also can get the same benefits at all of the nearly 8,500 T-Mobile® HotSpotSM locations across the country.1 In addition, unlike VoIP calling, when T-Mobile HotSpot @Home customers leave home or exit a T-Mobile HotSpot, their calls will seamlessly transfer onto T-Mobile's GSM/GPRS/EDGE wireless network, giving people the freedom to continue their important conversations uninterrupted as they go about their day. Calls also transfer from T-Mobile's network onto Wi-Fi.
Key components of the T-Mobile HotSpot @Home service include new mobile phones designed to seamlessly connect the user to a home Wi-Fi connection or T-Mobile HotSpot. T-Mobile today is introducing two HotSpot-enabled phones - the Samsung t409 and the Nokia 6086 - providing consumers with a choice of style and features. Each phone currently retails for $49.99 with a two-year contract on a qualifying rate plan.
T-Mobile also has partnered with leading router manufacturers D-Link and Linksys for Wi-Fi routers optimized for a first-rate calling experience with the T-Mobile HotSpot @Home service. These select routers are designed for simple set-up and enhanced battery life for the handset, as well as ensuring voice calls are carried with the utmost call quality. These routers also have commonly available data features found on standard routers, and work with customers' existing broadband connection. Consumers can choose which router to use with the service; each is currently offered at no charge with the HotSpot @Home service via mail-in rebate.
For a limited time, to kick-off the launch of T-Mobile HotSpot @Home, the service can be added to any qualifying T-Mobile voice plan for only $9.99 per month for a single line, and $19.99 per month for up to five lines on a FamilyTime plan. 2 This means five family members each can have unlimited calling from home over Wi-Fi for one low price, when the service is added to a qualifying FamilyTime plan.
Today, more people are choosing the simplicity of having just one phone. Americans are increasingly dropping their traditional landline phone service and switching instead to mobile phone use. According to Gartner, over ten percent of respondents to a survey indicated they used their mobile phone as their only phone — a trend that's even more pronounced among people aged 18-34, where almost 30 percent uses their mobile phone as their only phone3.
"We see a clear trend towards mobile phones displacing landline phones especially with younger consumers," said Tole Hart, an analyst at Gartner Group. "The most common barriers to cutting the cord to date have been the reliability of their mobile phone in the home and the cost of buying additional minutes."
T-Mobile HotSpot @Home addresses each of the most common concerns consumers express when using their mobile phone as their only phone:
* Cost of purchasing more plan minutes - For some, upgrading to a voice plan that provides enough minutes for all their calling needs can be cost prohibitive. T-Mobile HotSpot @Home solves this by providing unlimited local and long distance calls nationwide, day or night, when originating their calls from their home Wi-Fi network, which means no 'burning' wireless minutes from home and no additional charges for nationwide long distance.
* In-home service reliability - According to Gartner, 27 percent of all wireless minutes are used inside the home4. However, many cell phone users from various wireless providers report call quality issues as a result of inadequate in-home coverage4. HotSpot @Home addresses this by leveraging a Wi-Fi connection to provide great mobile phone coverage throughout users' homes.
Beginning today, customers can purchase T-Mobile HotSpot @Home service at T-Mobile retail stores nationwide and online at www.t-mobile.com. For more information on T-Mobile HotSpot @Home, visit www.theonlyphoneyouneed.com or www.t-mobile.com. For more information on T-Mobile HotSpot service, including a list of the nearly 8,500 active U.S. locations that includes leading retail outlets, hotels and airports, visit .