T-Mobile would have been better served by holding off on announcements for a couple weeks. Lately, its been all iPhone all the time and there is little anyone can do to get people to line up outside of their stores short of giving iPhones away for free. Nonetheless, T-Mobile’s new cellular/Wi-Fi service Hotspot @Home, is kind of a big deal.
For an introductory rate of $10 per month, T-Mobile customers with one of T-Mobile’s hotspot ready and a wireless broadband connection at home can ditch their land line (or VoIP) phone. The phone will work seamlessly on either the Wi-Fi or cellular network so calls that start on either network can continue on the other. Wi-Fi minutes are unlimited and free regardless of what hotspot is used. As a bonus, all of T-Mobile’s hotspots are free for phone calls with this plan.
For many people this could be a great deal. Anyone who maintains a phone at home because cellular coverage is poor or nonexistent in their abode will be a natural for this. People that spend a fair amount of their time within range of some sort of Wi-Fi will also find this useful. As the article referenced below points out, globetrotters could also get big savings over international roaming charges with this service.
Hotspot @Home can be added to any qualifying T-Mobile plan. Qualifying appears to mean any plan that costs $39.99 or more per month. If you don’t have a wireless router at home, T-Mobile will set you up with one almost for free (rebate involved). There are only a few hotspot ready phone models available from T-Mobile at this time, but that is likely to change.
This is certainly not an iPhone killer. Cingular, however, could learn something here. If they don’t already have something like this in the works, they should. The iPhone already moves from cellular networks to Wi-Fi for data connections, it does not seem like that much of a stretch to do the same for voice.