All the well deserved hype about Apple’s iPhone this past week overshadowed a very interesting and innovative announcement from T-Mobile that was highlighted by the NY Times’ David Pogue. I’ll defer to Mr. Pogue’s article for all the detail.
The basic premise of the innovation was that T-Mobile is offering a Wi-Fi phone/network service whereby when you are in the range of any Wi-Fi network, your mobile phone call will be carried via Wi-Fi instead of their (weak, pathetic) mobile network. And they are also giving away network routers so that you can set up Wi-Fi in your house and essentially make free calls via the home Wi-Fi network.
I find this product offering extremely interesting and compelling on several levels, however the most interesting to me is that what T-Mobilie has done is taken a big, giant step towards supreme network convergence on an Internet Protocol backbone (with all due respect to Skype and Vonage). They have essentially broken down the barrier between their Mobile network and the Internet. With the release of the aforementioned iPhone multi-purpose device, it seems immensely silly that you have to connect to one network to make a phone call and another to surf the internet.
I’ve always felt that eventually all forms of data and information will travel along the Internet backbone, with the one barrier being universal Wi-Fi/connectivity. This offering by T-Mobile may well be a big first step towards that. The Mobile carriers steel handed grip on their networks may be loosening a bit.