NEW YORK – Cell phone company T-Mobile USA is set to launch a nationwide service that lets customers place unlimited domestic calls with their landline phones over a broadband connection.
The service, called T-Mobile AtHome, will cost $10 per month when it rolls out on July 2.
Customers need a wireless plan that costs at least $40 per month, and need to buy a T-Mobile Internet router for $50. The router plugs into the home broadband connection, and the customer's corded or cordless phones plug into the router.
"Clearly there's a big opportunity for us to give T-Mobile customers an incentive not to be on competitive landline service," said T-Mobile USA's chief executive, Robert Dotson.
T-Mobile USA had 28.7 million subscribers on March 31, making it the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the country.
Even though its parent company, Deutsche Telekom AG, is the dominant local phone company in Germany, T-Mobile doesn't have a landline business in the U.S. That means that unlike AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile hasn't been able to bundle landline and wireless service.
The service is targeted at consumers who are reluctant to "cut the cord," or abandon their landline completely in favor of wireless.
T-Mobile already has a service targeting that segment, one that lets Wi-Fi-equipped cell phones use the home wireless router for calls rather than the cellular network. That improves indoor coverage and takes traffic off T-Mobile's outdoor network.
The new service has been tested in the Dallas and Seattle areas since February.
T-Mobile AtHome is similar to Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, service offered by companies like Vonage Holdings Corp.
They provide an adapter that connects to an existing router, while T-Mobile's default solution involves switching out a customer's router if they already have one.
A Vonage plan that provides free calls to the U.S. and Canada and to landlines in some European countries costs $25 per month.
The monthly prices don't include taxes or certain fees, which vary from state to state.