Verizon Wireless has added a new twist to the concept of wireless substitution with a market trial in New York and Connecticut for a service called Home Phone Connect. The service includes a base station that connects to the Verizon Wireless network, then connects the call from the base station located inside the home to a conventional home phone handset.
To qualify for the service, trial participants must be Verizon Wireless customers; the home phone is then added much like subscribers would add another family member to an existing wireless plan. Subscribers have the option to pay $9.99 a month to share a “bucket” of minutes between their wireless phone and their home phone provided they pay at least $69.99 for a usage-tiered Verizon Wireless plan or they can add unlimited minutes (for local domestic long distance calls) to the home phone for $19.99 monthly. Customers can port their existing phone number over to the wireless network.
Features like caller ID, 411 / 611 / 911, and account balance inquiries are included, with the full feature list similar to those found with a wireless plan. A battery back-up is provided so users can still use the base station when AC power is interrupted.
The business model and pricing are similar to those launched by T-Mobile back in June 2007 with its T-Mobile @home service; however, T-Mobile discontinued sales of its wireless service earlier this year. Interestingly, the U. S. Government’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a study in May 2010 reporting that one in four callers have “cut the cord, ” substituting their mobile phone for wired home phone service. Whether Verizon Wireless will be able to succeed with this approach where T-Mobile did not will be for the market to decide.