Telstra has followed through on its promise to deliver the ‘fourth screen’ into Australian homes with the launch of its T-Hub device.
First flagged in February last year at Telstra’s Investor Day, the device combines a wireless handset and public switched telephone network (PSTN) calling service with 7-inch touchscreen and access to the Internet.
Users can receive phone calls and text messages, visit Facebook and YouTube, play music, listen to radio stations and view Telstra services powered by Sensis.
The unit itself is $299 outright or it can be bought as part of one of 15 bundled options.
As reported by Computerworld Australia, maintaining fixed line revenues have been a major challenge for Telstra – in February the company flagged that revenue from PSTN services had declined $222 million year on year during the last half.
According to Telstra director consumer marketing, Jenny Young, the new device would help address the decline.
“T-Hub has been designed to increase the relevance of fixed line and the home phone, absolutely,” she said. “The better the usability, the clearer the functionality, the more encouragement there is to use the home phone more.”
The new functions included one-touch calling from a user's address book or for an entry in the Yellow Pages, the ability to transfer calls around the home, and increased ease to send text messages, Young said.
Increasing customer loyalty was also a consideration in designing the T-Hub, Young said, citing a year’s development and design, 1000 hours of product research, and a 1500-user trial to get the device right.
“Any customer who enjoys a product and service will absolutely show greater loyalty,” she said.
Despite having to find a place in households already saturated with devices, the T-Hub also has to contend with being limited to working exclusively on Telstra's fixed line and broadband networks – limiting its attractiveness to customers who may wish to use the device in future on a rival carrier’s network.
“I still think customers will embrace the T-Hub and its capabilities… there are a lot of pages and services on the T-Hub which aren’t metered so you get really good ongoing value of the T-Hub,” Young said.
Users will be able to send text messages from the T-Hub, but the device would not undercut mobile phone revenues, according to the telco.
“We’ve had fixed text messaging [from a home phone] for some years now and the diversification of hoe customers communicate with each other has also been with us for some time,” Young said, “We are very happy for customers to text of a T-hub or a mobile.”