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October 24, 2006

T-Mobile launches Seattle Wi-Fi voice service

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 12:48 PM

T-Mobile USA is testing a new service in Seattle that allows users to roam from
T-Mobile's cellular network to a Wi-Fi network to make unlimited voice calls.

The service is being sold as an easy way to drop your landline phone while still getting good coverage indoors and not using your monthly bucket of minutes.

In an interview earlier this month, T-Mobile CEO Robert Dotson told me switching from land lines is a no-brainer.

"Land line displacement is the next logical place -- the most brain-dead place to go," he said. "There's a lot of discussion of what do you do when penetration rates [of cellphones] hit 80 percent. But let's look at the full telephony dollar that's being spent today. If the behavior exists today, how can we get it on a mobile device?"

The service, limited to a trial in Seattle, costs $20 a month when a subscriber has a monthly plan of $40 or more. The customer will have the choice of one of two phones, which will be sold for $50 after rebates and comes with a two-year contract. A wireless router for the user's home will be free after rebate.

To use the service, a subscriber will have to have a broadband connection to the home and use a specific wireless router. From there, the phone is supposed to easily roam from the wireless network -- outside the house -- to the Wi-Fi network in the house. T-Mobile Hotspots found in Starbucks and other locations can also be used.

T-Mobile said the service is being tested in Seattle because T-Mobile USA's headquarters are in Bellevue, and because the city ranks seventh when it comes to residents' dropping landlines.

For more information, check out www.theonlyphoneyouneed.com.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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