Bound for Business
In addition, the specialized access points have other important features. "Also it enhances the battery life of the device. Weve tweaked the communication between the router and handset to be more efficient," Dobrow said. Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin also doesnt think that T-Mobiles solution will remain strictly a consumer offering for long. "There is tremendous demand from the business community already," Golvin said.Golvin said that in the past, carriers havent been willing to offer products that are acceptable to most enterprises. He thinks that something like the T-Mobile convergence offering probably will be acceptable, but a great deal will depend on the enterprise and its specific needs. "I think its not sufficiently compelling for enterprises to switch over their cell phone service," Golvin said. "Some small enterprises may be interested in this solution. The offering is limited to these mainstream phones. If its a small enterprise thats not data-dependent, then this is a viable solution." Golvin said that the biggest shortcoming right now is that T-Mobile isnt offering its converged product with support for BlackBerrys or other data devices. The T-Mobile Dash, although it supports both GSM and Wi-Fi, will not work with the @ Home product, for example. Golvin said that there are other factors that may slow down adoption of the T-Mobile service, including the need to save on landline service and the need to have a broadband connection. He noted that getting a DSL connection from carriers might be problematic. "It might be hard to get the broadband without the phone line," he said. Frank Hanzlik, Managing Director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, said that he welcomes the HotSpot @Home offering and hopes that more carriers will move in a similar direction. "Wed certainly like to see it become more pervasive from more carriers," Hanzlik said. To read about Research In Motions effort to add Wi-Fi capability to its handsets, click here. "The benefits of having Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity together are significant. Its really about using the best pipe for the environment and application youre in," he said. Hanzlik noted that his organization has already certified more than 100 Wi-Fi capable phones. Dobrow said that to create this product, T-Mobile leveraged its expertise with Wi-Fi hot spots as well as with GSM. T-Mobile has a global network of such public Wi-Fi access points to work with. "We have expertise in Wi-Fi, and obviously thats what we leveraged," he said. He also noted that this is in line with the companys long-term strategy. "T-Mobile is in the business of replacing land lines," Dobrow said. Phones for the T-Mobile converged offering currently cost $49.99 each with a two-year contract. The specialized routers are offered for free with a mail-in rebate. The unlimited voice plans will eventually rise from where they are now, but T-Mobile has not said how long the introductory pricing will last. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.
"Enterprises have been crying for dual-mode wireless phones from the carriers for some time. They have wireless LANs, they have big data pipes. When they see employees running around with cell phones, they see money leaking out," he said.