T-Mobile joined the wireless unlimited calling party this week, but is now upping the ante with landline calling as well. Their new Talk Forever service complements their recently launched Hotspot@Home service, and provides unlimited domestic calling for $10/month. The new service will only be available in Dallas and Seattle for now. Hotspot@Home routes cell phone calls over the customer’s home Wi-Fi network, removing the minutes associated with that call from their wireless bucket of minutes, for an extra $10/month. The new Talk Forever is essentially a pure play VoIP service, similar to Vonage, where customers utilize traditional landline phones. So T-Mobile customers can now use their wireless or landline phone and get unlimited domestic calling for $10/month each (or $20 total). T-Mobile customers must subscribe to a $40/month plan to qualify for Talk Forever or Hotspot@Home, meaning customers would have a minimum bill of $60/month if they subscribe to both services. They also need to buy a compatible home router for $49.
This T-Mobile development is a clear move to encourage customers to give up traditional landline telephone service. With a wireless and broadband subscription, customers will now have unlimited calling from their home, and only use wireless minutes outside the home. I suspect as both this new plan from T-Mobile, as well as the multiple unlimited wireless plans announced this week begin to take hold, a fair percentage of consumers will question whether they need a landline phone. As Joe Sims, T-Mobile’s broadband products vice president and general manager, said in an interview with Wi-Fi Net News, “[we’re looking] to address the remaining reasons people were reluctant to cut the cord.”
After all of the activity this week, you have to wonder whether these communications conglomerates have well defined strategies, or are they winging it to see what sticks. My guess is a little of both. Does anyone really know the long term impact of these new plans, and whether they will provide enough margins for these carriers to continue them? Or is this just a “land grab” to shake out competitors, and then the market adjusts with fewer players?