T-Mobile Looks to Shake Up Mobile Market for Businesses

NEW YORK CITY -- For its next move, T-Mobile has put together a package intended to help it capture a share of the mobile business market in the US from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

At the "Un-Carrier 9.0" event in Tribeca on Wednesday, T-Mobile US Inc. CEO John Legere said that T-Mobile hopes to address the 99.7% of businesses in the US which have under 500 employees. "The companies that drive this country," as Legere called them.

He claims that the "Un-Carrier for Business" plan is intended to shake up the "cosy duopoly" of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), which currently have the lion's share of the estimated $83 million mobile business market in the US locked up.

Talkin' Magenta
Ray, Sievert and Legere take questions.
Ray, Sievert and Legere take questions.

"We're going to do to the business sector what we did to the consumer sector two years ago," Legere stated.

He says that T-Mobile currently does around $3.5 million to $4 millon in enterprise business. So this move could open up a significant new market for the operator. (See T-Mobile: 2G's Good Enough for Global Travel, CTIA: T-Mobile Takes 'Uncarrier' Attitude to Work and T-Mobile Adds More MDM to Its Business Case.)

T-Mobile is also starting a 24-hour customer support center to help this new small business push.

The business offer
Small businesses can add up to 10 lines for $16 a month, over 20 lines and the price drops to $15 a month. Move up to over 1,000 lines and that price drops to an "unprecedented" $10 a month, according to COO Mike Sievert.

T-Mobile claims the pricing is more than 40% lower than equivalent AT&T or Verizon packages for enterprise customers.

All of the lines will get other T-Mobile features including WiFi calling, low-cost international calling and the Jump device upgrade plan as part of the package.

All lines opened get 1 GB of data each a month as standard. Data can then be bought for a line or pooled and distributed between workers. Pooled data costs $4.75 per GB at a 100 GB minimum and drops to $4.25 GB at 1 terrabyte of data usage rates. Or companies can purchase unlimited data for $30 a line or 2 GB of data for $10 per line.

While T-Mobile goes after SMBs, its competitors aren't sitting still. Sprint, AT&T and Verizon are also going after the market. (See Sprint Officially Unveils Workplace-as-a-Service , Sprint Plans WiFi + Lync Enterprise Bundle and AT&T & Verizon Empires Strike Back on SMBs.)

Network updates
CTO Neville Ray told the crowd that 270 million people in the US are now covered by T-Mobile's LTE network. The company is aiming for 300 million, that's virtually all of the US population, by year's end.

"We are 52% faster than Verizon, who are faster than AT&T, and everybody's faster than Sprint," Legere claimed for his company's relatively new 4G LTE network. He challenged anyone in the crowd to do an Ookla Speed Test to test his words.

Ray told Light Reading after the event that T-Mobile's "wideband LTE" launches in major urban markets are helping to improve the company's overall performance. The wideband LTE, which uses 2x15MHz or 2x20Mhz channels to boost data capacity, is now up in more than 120 markets in the US. Ray is aiming for 150 markets by year's end.

Read more about LTE in the components section here on Light Reading.

Legere swear counter
Legere's swearing at these events is very much expected. He referenced it himself, noting that he swore within a minute of taking the stage.

For those of you catching up on the John Legere Swearing Drinking Game™: He dropped the F-bomb at least four times and used the S-word at around the same frequency.

Light Reading's favorite expletive usage? Legere asked for a show of hands of how many people in the room used Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) as their service provider. As far as Light Reading could see, no one raised a hand.

"See, some of you fuckers are lying!" Legere chided the audience of journalists, analysts and T-Mobile employees. (Actually, you'd probably have to be pretty dumb to admit to being a Sprint user if you're a T-Mobile employee at your employer's flagship event.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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Phil_Britt 3/23/2015 | 10:53:53 AM
Re: I have a funny feeling In order to successfully attract small businesses, T-Mobile will have to provide acceptable coverage in enough markets. Sure, you can go to Panera, McDonald's etc., for wireless. But those remote sites all have issues at times -- Panera has 30 minutes limit at lunch in order to turn tables, many McDonald's connections unstable (from personal experience), etc. So Wi-Fi alone will not solve the issues of a small network footprint.
MikeP688 3/22/2015 | 3:56:40 PM
Re: I have a funny feeling I can't help but admire the tenacity of T-Mobile to hang in there against some very challenging odds and the continued "onslaught" by the majors.   The tie up with Google is even more fascianting and if they pull it off, it will make things even more interesting than it is right now.


milan03 3/22/2015 | 1:07:28 PM
Re: I have a funny feeling It's the mentality, not the size. Every single UnCarrier move is pure startup mentality, positioning the smallest wireless operator for growth. They also don't have anything in common with the German owner as they don't even agree with T-Mobile US strategy. They agree with the profit that TMUS is starting to generate.
mendyk 3/22/2015 | 1:02:49 PM
Re: I have a funny feeling Yes, but it also has 45,000 employees and is two-thirds owned by Deutsche Telekom.
milan03 3/22/2015 | 1:01:08 PM
Re: I have a funny feeling T-Mobile US is the smallest Tier 1 wireless operator, and the uncarrier moves are definitely startup mentality.
mendyk 3/22/2015 | 12:59:21 PM
Re: I have a funny feeling Are you saying that T-Mobile is "a small company with a startup mentality?"
kq4ym 3/21/2015 | 8:36:58 PM
Re: Small business, big challenge With some pricing advantage maybe the plan might just work. But, I'm always skeptical when the business plan sits on an idea to serve the majority of a particular sector, "T-Mobile hopes to address the 99.7% of businesses in the US which have under 500 employees.
DHagar 3/20/2015 | 1:50:17 PM
Re: I have a funny feeling milan03, good points.  And clearly strategic positioning is a winning formula.  I will remember who had a "funny feeling" about his future first!  I will be rooting for him - I like the innovation in pricing strategy, if he can find a way to make it work economically.
milan03 3/20/2015 | 1:42:00 PM
Re: I have a funny feeling @DHagar, considering that his marketing strategy and network investments have been gaining millions per quarter, we should have every reason to believe that this may actually work.

Again, as long as you don't think massive enterprise, and think small/mid size business. That's exactly what he's going after. He isn't trying to gain 50% of the business market share overnight. He has 3% right now. If he gets 5-10% that's millions of business customers in addition to consumer plans.

This exactly is how a small company with a startup mentality should strategize their growth.
DHagar 3/20/2015 | 1:08:27 PM
Re: I have a funny feeling milan03, you may be right in that he has captured his "niche market".  I think my question is will that strategy disrupt the market and will he take business away from the big players who have built the infrastructure to deliver and compete on quality service?

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