The new service provides unlimited nationwide calling for $10/month from any existing landline phone in the home of a T-Mobile cellular subscriber.
The service is an alternative to T-Mobile HotSpot@Home service, now renamed Unlimited Hot Spot Calling. That service lets owners of Wi-Fi-equipped cellular phones place unlimited Wi-Fi calls through T-Mobile’s public Wi-Fi hot spots and through home Wi-Fi routers optimized for the service. Calls can be handed off from Wi-Fi to cellular.
Both services are targeted as landline replacements, but the new T-Mobile@Home service is designed for consumers who prefer to use traditional landline phones inside the house or who prefer that the entire family be reachable through one phone number rather than through multiple Wi-Fi/cellular phones, a spokeswoman said.
To use the new service, a T-Mobile cellular subscriber buys a router priced at $49.99 with two-year service agreement. The router converts a connected landline phone’s analog voice signal to GSM-over-IP. The router can be connected to a telephone wall jack to connect all landline phones in the house to the service, but because the setup would make it more difficult for customer-service reps to troubleshoot problems by phone, T-Mobile recommends that consumers plug a phone directly into the router. Alternately, consumers can plug a multihandset cordless-phone base station directly to the router so that multiple cordless handsets can access the service. For that reason, T-Mobile offers a VTech cordless base station with two handsets at $59.99.
The router features two SIM cards for two-line service to the home, and because the router is equipped with Wi-Fi, consumers can also use it with T-Mobile Wi-Fi/cellular phones to access the Unlimited HotSpot Calling service.
The VTech phones and T-Mobile router will be sold through stores owned by T-Mobile, through the carrier’s Web site and through authorized dealers.
The $10/month price for T-Mobile@Home service is available to T-Mobile subscribers with a single-line cellular plan of $39.99 and up or family plans of $49.99 and up. The Unlimited Hot Spot Calling service is also $10/month.
In recent weeks, T-Mobile expanded its selection of Wi-Fi-enabled cellphones to eight models with the addition of the Nokia 6301 and Samsung SGH-t339.