Looking to make a little wireless noise of themselves during the iPhone frenzy week, T-mobile will launch Hotspot@Home this Wednesday 6/27. Hotspot@Home, a fixed mobile convergence (FMC) service, will offer Wi-Fi offload of mobile calls when a Hotspot@Home capable handset is in range of an appropriate Wi-Fi hotspot. T-mobile has been beta trialing the service in Seattle, WA for the past 9 months. We reported on a similar launch by Cincinnati Bell last week.
This type of FMC application is beneficial to both the customer and their provider. The customer can fill indoor gaps of mobile wireless coverage with their home Wi-Fi network. An extra added bonus is the Wi-Fi use does not count towards the customer’s monthly minute allowance. Although, T-Mobile will charge a monthly premium of $10/month for individuals and $20/month for a family plan (both of which are introductory pricing and will certainly increase after a promotional period) for the service. Eventually FMC handsets will be able to interface with the hundreds of thousands of available Wi-Fi spots across the globe. The benefit to the wireless provider is the off load of wireless traffic off their crowded GSM network, thus giving them some network efficiencies. Additionally, FMC conceivably provides a competitive advantage, as T-Mobile and other FMC carriers can market this attractive application as a differentiating service, from not only competing wireless options, but also with landline carriers.
A viable FMC product like Hotspot@Home helps continue the migration away from traditional landline service. One of the factors preventing landline replacement is poor wireless coverage indoors. FMC alleviates that problem by routing calls through Wi-Fi as a VoIP over broadband call. Problem solved – at least in theory. This begs the question as to why that famous other phone launching this week does not provide FMC options?