STEVEN INSKEEP, host:
One of the biggest U.S. cell phone companies is launching an attack on landlines. T-Mobile is testing a new plan that encourages consumers to cut the cord.
From Seattle, NPR's Wendy Kaufman has more.
WENDY KAUFMAN: The new service being tested here and in Dallas will allow customers to use a regular hard-wired phone but go through a router to the T-Mobile wireless network. The customer could then jettison their local landline provider and save money in the process.
Charles Goldman of Forrester Research explains how the plan would work.
Mr. CHARLES GOLDMAN (Forrester Research): It allows you to still use your home phone line, keep your number if you like, and then use your cell phone as well. And that's only $10 additional per month that they're charging their existing cellular customers for unlimited local and long distance calling on their home phone.
KAUFMAN: But you'll need to buy a $50 router and you'll need a broadband connection. Since many people get that from their local phone company, it's not clear how many customers T-Mobile will attract with its new service. Unlike the nation's two largest cell phone carriers - Verizon and AT&T - T-Mobile and Sprint have no landline networks to protect, so they're aggressively going after customers who don't need or want that landline connection. According to T-Mobile, roughly one out of eight U.S. households already relies solely on a mobile phone.
At the same time, all the carriers are courting customers who are heavy users of mobile phones. This week Verizon announced a flat $100 a month fee for unlimited domestic calling with no roaming or long distance charges. Within hours of that announcement, both AT&T and T-Mobile countered with their own $100 a month plan. Those heavy cell phone users are coveted customers and no carrier wants to lose them.
Wendy Kaufman, NPR News, Seattle.
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