CTIA: T-Mobile Takes 'Uncarrier' Attitude to Work

LAS VEGAS -- CTIA -- T-Mobile is reinvigorating its focus on the enterprise, especially small and medium-sized businesses, with new rate plans, international roaming packages and an enterprise app store in the works.

This week, the U.S.'s number four "uncarrier" announced two new international plans that give business travelers between 150MB of data for $25 per month and 1GB of roaming data for $120 per month. Last month, it announced its "Simple Choice" $50 to $70 contract-free plans for the enterprise similar to its consumer plans in that employees can choose to bring their own device, pay the unlocked price or get a financing plan from T-Mobile. The plans build on its move to shared data in the enterprise last year.

Now that T-Mobile has MetroPCS locked up and is a publicly traded company, it has better access to the public markets and is trying to bring more awareness to its enterprise offers, said Marc Rohleder, director of solutions sales engineering.

Alongside its new pricing schemes, it introduced Business Extras, bundles that enterprises can add for services like 24/7 remote IT support and paper-to-mobile forms conversion.

T-Mobile's other B2B strategies include machine-to-machine communications, taken back in-house when the AT&T Inc. merger fell through, mobile device management (MDM), security, a partnership with parent Deutsche Telekom AG and iPass for global Wi-Fi, along with Wi-Fi calling and a number of application partnerships. (See T-Mobiles Back in the M2M Business.)

T-Mobile doesn't offer an enterprise app store akin to Verizon Communications Inc.'s Private App Store for Business yet, but Frank Sickinger, SVP of T-Mobile's B2B group, hinted that one is coming soon. (See Verizon to Launch Enterprise App Stores.)

"[The uncarrier mantra is] about challenging the marketplace norm, and it is the exact same thing in the enterprise," Sickinger said.

T-Mobile's enterprise business has grown 7 percent year-on-year, but the carrier faces an uphill battle as it looks to woo new customers of all sorts. In the enterprise, it's up against other shared data plans from its larger competitors Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Nextel Corp., which also offer a number of enterprise services.

All four consider the enterprise the next battleground for subscriber growth. AT&T, for example, has realigned its API strategy to focus on the enterprise. Laura Merling, AT&T's new VP of ecosystem and platform development, said the carrier is all about helping the enterprise be successful, shifting its focus away from consumer app development to business.

"We will still participate in long-tail developer and communities, but we can see an immediate business in helping [enterprises] with their pain points," she said. "Those are immediate wins and bring immediate value and results."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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