T-Mobile USA is expected to rollout its highly anticipated Hotspot at Home WiFi/mobile service nationwide in mid-June after testing the service in Seattle, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Nokia and Samsung supplied phones for the trial of the service in Seattle, where customers paid $20 a month on top of their current mobile bill to test it out. Additional family members could be added for another $5 a month. The report indicates that the pricing may be tweaked before the commercial launch.
The carrier had some technical difficulties with handoffs between the carrier's network and the WiFi hotspot, which is a longtime issue for fixed mobile convergence. Battery life issues plagued the handsets for the trial, but new versions reportedly have fixed these two issues.
Those touting FMC and UMA are no doubt holding their breath. Dual-mode WiFi/mobile offerings, otherwise known as fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) offerings, are in large part failing to make a huge impression on end users in Europe. Deutsche Telecom shut down its dual-mode SIP-based WiFi/GSM offering, called T-One, in Germany after attracting fewer than 10,000 subscribers since last August.
T-Mobile USA, having the technical bugs worked out, still has its work cut out for it on the marketing side. Poor marketing, high tariffs and a lack of compelling handsets are largely to blame for the slow uptake so far in Europe.
For more on T-Mobile's FMC effort:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)