Kamis, 26 Juni 2008

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wireless provider T-Mobile USA on Wednesday unveiled a service aimed at customers who want to stop paying landline bills but are reluctant to entirely abandon their home phones and phone numbers.

T-Mobile, the No. 4 U.S. mobile provider, said it was launching a 10-per-month plan in which its wireless customers can disconnect their existing home phone service and instead install a wireless router for an additional one-time charge of 50.

The "T-Mobile @Home" service could help spur a departure from landline phones by encouraging customers who like the idea of keeping their old numbers and sharing a phone with family to finally "cut the chord," said the company, which is the U.S. wireless unit of Deutsche Telekom AG.

"We found that a lot of families dont want to get rid of their home phone," said Britt Wehrman, director of product development at T-Mobile.

He said many consumers, especially families, feel safer in having a home phone. For example, a couple would likely feel more secure if they knew they could reach their babysitter at the usual home number, he said.

At the same time, one in six U.S. consumers have already disconnected their landlines, and that trend is likely to continue, Wehrman said.

"Were happy to take advantage of that trend," he said.

Customers must sign a two-year service agreement and will need a broadband Internet connection as well as a touch-tone phone, T-Mobile said. The service will be available beginning July 2.

By porting existing phone numbers to the new service, customers can keep their old numbers. T-Mobile estimates that the new service will save the average customer more than 50 a month, or 600 a year.

T-Mobile began a push to encourage consumers to ditch landline phones last June by offering a service utilizing short-range Wi-Fi networks to improve indoor coverage. It said around 45 percent of those who had signed up for that service had come from other carriers.

T-Mobile competes with Verizon Wireless, which is owned by Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc, AT&T Inc and Sprint Nextel Corp. (Reporting by Ritsuko Ando, editing by Dave Zimmerman)


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