No question about it though; it is an enticing offer: An all-you-can eat phone service for $10 per month, no strings attached. Well, almost: You can only add this service to an existing wireless (cellphone) plan with T-Mobile and those $10 will only cover calls made within the U.S. (and most likely Canada). International calls will be extra. But still: T-Mobile’s offer is a game-changing move and undercuts similar VoIP service from companies Vonage or AT&T, which are currently priced around $25 per month.
It has not been exactly a secret that landline phone service is a dying breed as more and more people are replacing their landlines with cellphones. According to a recent survey released by Harris Interactive, 89-percent U.S. adults are now using a cellphone, while only 79-percent still have a landline phone and 15-percent are making calls via VoIP. According to the market research firm, 9-percent of the U.S. residents are using landline phone service only, while cellphone-only users were at 14-percent (which is up from 11-percent in 2006). Roughly 6-percent mentioned that they are using a cellphone and VoIP. The clear trend is away from the landline and towards the cellphone.
With that background in mind, T-Mobile’s move does not appear to be just payback for AT&Ts Starbucks deal, but makes business. As mobile phones turn into the preferred communication tool, most may not feel comfortable ditching the landline service completely. But we may be willing to make it a secondary service - a cheap service to rely on, just in case. T-Mobile’s $10 T-Mobile@Home service, which we predicted to surface as a VoIP service almost one year ago, effectively downgrades and devalues the landline phone and may get you thinking, especially if you pay more than $60 for your traditional landline service like me.
To use the service, customers can continue to use tehir touch-tone corded or cordless phones, an existing broadband Internet connection, and the T-Mobile @Home HiPort Wireless Router with Home Phone Connection, which is offered by the company for $50 with a two-year service agreement. T-Mobile @Home said the service will be available "in a matter of minutes".
I personally have been using, in addition to the traditional landline and a cellphone, Vonage’s VoIP service for more than four years, but I certainly would not ditch my landline just yet. While I was able to cut my monthly bill of international calls more than in half, I am still paying $75 including a Fax line and international call fees. In addition, if you ditch your landline you will have to be aware that a broadband outage in your area will mean that you won’t have phone service either. There may be some other hiccups, as AT&T in my area enjoys resetting my IP address sometimes up to 20 times per day, which means that your VoIP phone will be out during the time the voice terminal re-acquires a new IP address as well.
Voice quality issues is another concern with VoIP services, but users affected by those issues tend to accepted such downsides in exchange for a lower monthly price.
In the end, T-Mobile’s $10-per-month phone service add-on is just that -cheap, secondary phone service. However, before you subscribe to it, think twice, before ditching your landline completely - especially if you rely on it in one way or the other.