T-Mobile Pilots WiFi/Cell Service - news from Seattle
With little fanfare, T-Mobile USA has launched its long-anticipated dual-mode WiFi-cellular service, known as "HotSpot@Home," in a pilot program aimed at residential customers in Seattle. The pilot, which got underway yesterday, marks a milestone in the company's drive to make good on CEO Robert Dotson's pledge to make traditional landline phones obsolete.
It also puts the Big Three U.S. carriers -- Cingular Wireless LLC , Verizon Wireless , and Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S - message board) -- that T-Mobile is willing to risk losing paid cellular minutes to unlimited, flat-rate calls over WiFi connections, in a bid to deliver seamless roaming over different sorts of networks with different types of service plans.
T-Mobile customers in greater Seattle can purchase T-Mobile HotSpot@Home products and services at the two dozen Seattle-area T-Mobile retail stores. Based on Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) technology, the service allows calls to transferred to and from T-Mobile’s cellular (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) network and Wi-Fi hotspots, either at home (with WiFi routers provided for free after a rebate) or in T-Mobile's extensive network of paid WiFi zones. The new service costs $19.99 per month on top of the customers' existing rate plans, as long as those plans cost $39.99 or more, and allows unlimited calling over WiFi connections.