Telstra launches T-Hub

Hybrid landline telephone device features Internet-enabled touch screen

Telstra has launched the T-Hub, which it describes is a "new generation of home phone" that the telco hopes will boost declining fixed-line rentals in Australia homes. The T-Hub will be available to purchase next Tuesday and its touch screen lets the user access popular Internet services like Facebook and YouTube.

Telstra Chief Marketing Officer Kate McKenzie said that the T-Hub is not just a device but also includes a range of services. "T-Hub will suit Australians' appetite for quick access to information, while enabling customers to perform many mobile phone–type applications on their home phone," she said.

The T-Hub features an 18cm tablet-style that rests on a cradle and features one cordless handset. Telstra says that up to five handsets can be added to a single T-Hub; the extra handsets are sold for $69 each. The phone plugs into a standard telephone socket and can access BigPond services via a Wi-Fi connection to a user's home broadband connection. Users can access the Internet with the built-in Web browser and can also send text messages to Telstra mobiles.

Telstra is offering a series of bundled plans with the T-Hub, including the Home Bundle 12GB plan that features unlimited calls, 12GB of data and a Home Network Gateway for $109 per month plus a $35 upfront fee over a 24 month contract. Telstra customers can also purchase the Sagem-made device separately for $299. Customers who are already subscribers to Telstra's voice and broadband services can sign up for the T-Hub and wireless gateway for an upfront fee of $35 and $11 per month over 24 months.

"We've trialled the T-Hub and some of the most popular features were hands-free phone calls from the touch panel plus local weather, sports, news and finance information. Customers also found Internet radio a great feature for the kitchen or living area, along with a digital photo frame," said McKenzie.

Calls through the T-Hub will be made over Telstra's fixed-line network. There are no immediate plans from the telco for an integrated app store.