T-Mobile Offers Cheap Internet Calls at Home

Wireless carrier hopes $10 monthly charge for Web calls will earn customer loyalty.

A cordless or corded phone plugs into T-Mobile's router.
A cordless or corded phone plugs into T-Mobile's router.

Here's a new twist on Internet calling: T-Mobile plans to offer a supercheap version, essentially a loss leader to get and keep wireless customers. For $10 a month, T-Mobile customers will be able to make all the calls they want from traditional handsets at home across the Internet. The offer will be available in July.

If the quality is good enough to attract customers, the move is sure to put pressure on AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which already offer Internet phone service. Their service starts at around $30 a month, which is also what cable companies have been charging for their unlimited Internet calls. Even independent competitors like Vonage charge about $25 for comparable service.

T-Mobile at Home will include all the typical bells and whistles—unlimited domestic long distance, voice mail, three-way calling, call waiting, and caller ID. Customers can move their existing phone number to the new line.

The wireless carrier has tested the service in Dallas and Seattle. T-Mobile says that 97 percent of customers dropped their land lines in favor of the cheaper calling.

Unlike other dirt-cheap calling services, including Skype and magicJack, T-Mobile's won't require a PC to make calls. Customers would buy a T-Mobile router to plug into their broadband connection. The router will cost $50 with, in a nod to T-Mobile's wireless pedigree, a two-year contract.