T-Mobile: 2G's Good Enough for Global Travel
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Genband Perspectives -- A big gripe on T-Mobile's free international data roaming plans has been that they restrict users to 2G EDGE speeds, yet fewer than 1% of T-Mobile's business customers are opting to upgrade to higher speeds when abroad.
As part of its Uncarrier 3.0 reveal last fall, T-Mobile US Inc. announced it would eliminate oftentimes exorbitant roaming fees and allow free international 2G EDGE data, free texting, and calls at the flat rate of 20 cents per minute in 115 countries. For those who require higher speeds, the carrier offers Speed Passes for 3G HSPA+ network access (since it doesn't have 4G roaming agreements in place). The plans range from 100 MB for one day at $15 to a two-week, 500 MB pass for $50. (See Bills Don't Lie: T-Mobile Drops International Roaming Charges and AT&T LTE Roams to 13 More Countries.)
Addressing the audience here today, Drew Kelton, T-Mobile's executive vice president of B2B, admitted to getting a lot of pushback on the 2G roaming speeds, but he said fewer than 1% of the 2 million people who have used a Simple Global Plan have opted to upgrade to a higher-speed option.
"It tells us we should only pay for what we need," he said. For a lot of people, adequate speed to check emails and do quick web browsing appears to be sufficient.
A survey T-Mobile released last month found that, since the implementation of its new roaming strategy, its customers have called three times as much when abroad, texted seven times more often, and used 28 times more data than they did previously. What's more, 53% more of its customers now roam on cellular in supported countries than before it unveiled the plans.
Kelton also hinted that more enterprise-focused shakeups are planned from the operator, which has primarily targeted consumers with its marketing and pricing shakeups so far. T-Mobile is set to unveil the next iteration of Uncarrier on June 18 at an event in Seattle. (See CTIA: T-Mobile Takes 'Uncarrier' Attitude to Work and T-Mobile Adds More MDM to Its Business Case.)
The B2B man stressed that BYOD is here to stay, and he warned enterprises to "be with it or miss the boat." He also mentioned how crucial security is as a service offering, and he called on the industry to "create an enterprise model that minimizes the cost economics and mobilizes the workforce."
So what might that mean in terms of new uncarrier announcements from Magenta? Kelton said a compelling opportunity would be to have a single device with a virtualized app on top of it enabling multiple personalities and multiple phone numbers, similar to AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Toggle. (See AT&T Readies Dual-Billing Toggle Update in Q1.)
T-Mobile could also create a new Business Elite plan with everything included to manage legacy platforms and integrated OTT, he suggested.
OTT "is an opportunity this industry needs to grasp wholeheartedly," he said, because tomorrow's CIO is today's 18-year-old. "They don't worry about the old Centrex world of Nortel switches. They think about OTT and web capabilities."
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading