Dual-mode cellular + Wi-Fi phones have been a frequent topic in this column over the past year. With these phones actually starting to roll out, I thought it would be interesting to examine T-Mobile’s new HotSpot @Home service that uses these dual-mode phones.

Increasing numbers of people are choosing the simplicity of having just one phone. Americans are dropping their traditional landline phone service and switching to mobile phone use.

According to Gartner, more than 10 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% use their mobile phone as their only phone.[1]

“We see a clear trend toward 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.”

Customers who depend on only their cell phone for service, or who are considering doing so, most often express two common concerns: the cost of additional plan minutes and in-home service reliability.

T-Mobile HotSpot @Home solves the concern over added costs for more minutes by providing consumers with unlimited local and long-distance calls nationwide, day or night, when they call from their home Wi-Fi network, which means no “burning” wireless minutes from home and no additional charges for nationwide long distance.

According to Gartner, 27% of all wireless minutes are used inside the home.[2] However, many cell phone users from various wireless providers report call quality issues as a result of inadequate in-home coverage. HotSpot @Home addresses this by leveraging a Wi-Fi connection to provide great mobile phone coverage throughout users’ homes.

T-Mobile says that HotSpot @Home helps people stay connected with those who matter most by combining the power of Wi-Fi (wireless Internet access) and T-Mobile’s nationwide voice and data network. While at home, customers can enjoy mobile coverage and unlimited domestic calling over Wi-Fi. While mobile, customers also can get the same benefits at all the nearly 8,500 T-Mobile HotSpot locations across the country. Broadband service is required for Wi-Fi calling at home in addition to activation of T-Mobile HotSpot @Home service is required for unlimited domestic calling over Wi-Fi.

When T-Mobile HotSpot @Home customers leave home or exit a T-Mobile HotSpot, their calls 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.

“More people than ever are looking to drop their home landline phone and pocket the savings. However, they don’t want to use all their wireless minutes talking from home. Our new service solves this dilemma once and for all,” said Robert Dotson, president and CEO, T-Mobile USA. “T-Mobile HotSpot @Home is a first-of-its-kind service that helps people simplify their lives, save money, and enjoy great call quality on one device — their mobile phone — at home.”

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 setup 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, 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 (plus taxes and fees; qualifying rate plan and minimum two-year service agreement required).

Stay connected!

Source: Gartner User Survey Analysis: Fixed-to-Mobile Substitution and Calling Patterns, United States; by Tole J. Hart; September 2006.