Archive for category T-Mobile
Understanding the interplay between the wireline and wireless worlds is important as value shifts occur. You can’t have a blockbuster iPad2 launch without Wi-Fi. And 55% to 60% of the embedded home Wi-Fi base is coming through cable modems. Apple Inc.’s success eventually results in Comcast Corp.’s, Time Warner Cable Inc.’s, Verizon Communications Inc.’s FioS and even AT&T Inc.’s U-Verse’s success.
With the next generation of tablet and phone devices (Apple’s iPad2 and the HTC Corp. Thunderbolt, for example) comes the front facing camera. We wrote about this with the column “The iPhone without a contract” last Labor Day. Sprint Nextel Corp.’s HTC Evo 4G launched last year with a front-facing camera using the WiMAX network and QiK (now owned by Skype) as the pre-installed app. New hardware begets new software. And this new software is high BPS (bandwidth per second). The higher the BPS, the faster the app.
The next $100 billion of value in the telecommunications industry (inclusive of software) is going to be created by the fast app ecosystem. Combine secure cloud computing with gigabit Ethernet backhaul and dual-core processors and you have the makings of an entirely new industry. It’s not that Groupon brought millions of us daily deals – it’s that they now bring them to us in 1080p (or whatever form factor your device can support). I can now see next year’s holiday blockbuster toys in action at Amazon.com (or through their app), not still photos. And video communication, including a revamped Pandora + YouTube, is now connected to my television. Why do I have a V-Tech cordless phone (and a $40 per month bill)? Why do I have a premium digital video tier?
It’s an exciting world to dream about, and developments are coming very quickly, thanks to companies like Apple and Google Inc. The highest returns can only occur, however, when you expand the market from portable (Wi-Fi) to mobile devices. In car. On train. On bus. If you are moving, you need mobility, not portability. And mobility requires bandwidth that moves with you.
This is where the wireless carriers come in. They hold the keys to mobile fast apps. As much as the developer community wants to circumvent or ignore relationships with the wireless carriers, they cannot achieve a high common denominator (“fastest app”) without the ability to achieve consistent bandwidth speeds and consistently low latency. Said another way, those applications developers that invest in the network interfaces and carrier relationships will create differentiation (and value) faster than those who dumb performance down to the lowest levels. When technology moves quickly, value is created from those companies who can expand with the market, who can achieve the highest and best result instead of the lowest and least. The bandwidth disparity created by 2G/3G/4G and Wi-Fi networks operating simultaneously is too great.
The only way Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA Inc. (combined or separate) can grow 10 to 20 million net adds in the next three years is to partner with the fast applications developers. Multi-player Angry Birds in 3D with optional voice chat does not happen without network integration – the connections are real-time, not “push” and servers need to be very close to the network. Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA may need more growth than 10 to 20 million net adds over the next 3 years to remain relevant. Dropped calls be damned – what about dropped apps?
So we have a willing development community, at least two willing carriers (on top of Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility who will definitely not take this lying down), and capital waiting to earn disproportionate returns. Where do we get started? Three ideas:
1. Multi-player Angry Birds in 3D with optional voice chat takes applications to a new level. Maybe an “all green” AB on March 17?
2. Facebook (or their replacement) could reinvent video communications singlehandedly (and take advertising to a new level).
3. Cloud-based communications directories with caller identificaton (app free version includes a mini-advertisement delivered on every incoming call).
One of the biggest reasons for any directory is discovery. In the old days of White Pages, we discovered a street address and a phone number associated with a name. With the advent of fast apps, I may want to know if you have FaceTime and if you are available for a quick chat, even if you are not in my contact list. Where’s the FaceTime (or Skype or Fring or ooVoo or YouTube or Facebook) listing on my BlackBerry? It doesn’t exist. Then how do I discover that you have FaceTime (meaning an Apple device that has a front facing camera on a participating carrier that has optimized FaceTime for their 4G network)? We need a better discovery engine to make FaceTime or their competitor a more relevant communications application.
The directory needs to protect privacy. I need to be able to turn off applications from being used by some and make an entirely different set of applications available to others. The directory needs to be connected to individuals, not Exchange (which, as explained in the last paragraph, doesn’t have room for these listings anyway). Privacy is easiest with an independent source – friendly to but free from wireless carriers, handset manufacturers, and operating systems.
Finally, the directory needs to be free. Listed or unlisted, private, user-controlled and free. This is not to say that there aren’t charges for “end caps” (featured fast apps), or that larger corporate or association directories don’t pay some fees, or that we show a mini-message on every incoming call in exchange for a free app, but this is not the calling name data storage margins of the past. And, if it can bring in 10 to 20 million customers for Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA (together or separate), it’s worth the carrier effort.
Fast apps are the next $100 billion opportunity in the communications industry. A well executed fast apps strategy by T-Mobile USA and Sprint Nextel (combined or separate) can break the current duopoly (or Verizon Wireless can execute it on its own with LTE and cripple their competition). To make fast apps a reality, the discovery process needs to be radically simpler, privacy needs to be protected, and it needs to be free to the end user. We need an independent directory.
Here come the fast apps. Are you ready?
Jim Patterson is CEO and co-founder of Mobile Symmetry, a start-up created for carriers to solve the problems of an increasingly mobile-only society. Patterson was most recently President – Wholesale Services for Sprint and has a career that spans over eighteen years in telecom and technology. Patterson welcomes your firstname.lastname@example.org.
T-Mobile needs the WiFi spectrum to compete with Verizon LTE? T-Mobile USA nearing deal for Clearwire spectrum – RealtyGo blog
Verizon’s LTE application gives them superior leverage in the Mobile data transmission space; Will T-Mobile emerge as a huge competitor…?
Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile USA unit is getting closer to a deal to buy spectrum from Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), according to a Bloomberg report–the latest twist in the long-rumored relationship between the two companies.
According to the report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter, T-Mobile is the only potential bidder for Clearwire’s spectrum and a deal could happen by the end of the first quarter. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said at the carrier’s investor conference last month that the company does not need spectrum in the near-to-medium term, which could give T-Mobile leverage over Clearwire. T-Mobile has been upgrading its HSPA+ network and has not committed to deploying LTE in the near term.
Clearwire, which recently announced a debt offering of $1.33 billion, is seeking additional funding sources to continue its mobile WiMAX network buildout. Clearwire’s WiMAX network is in 71 markets and covers roughly 120 million POPs.
Representatives for Clearwire and T-Mobile declined to comment.
Clearwire late last year disclosed plans to sell off some unneeded spectrum. CFO Erik Prusch said late last year Clearwire was exploring several different options, including selling off spectrum in regional or market-by-market chunks. He said in the top 100 markets Clearwire has 150 MHz to 160 MHz of spectrum.
LAS VEGAS–Remember the days when Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel ruled the world? Everyone used desktop or laptop computers running Windows software and powered by Intel chips. While there were alternatives (think Mac), most of the world computed with Wintel whether they wanted to or not.
Today, thanks in large part to the smartphone and tablet cavalcade, the world’s primary computing platform may change. Microsoft and Intel are relatively minor players in both smartphones and tablets, whereas upstarts Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) are leading the game. At the Consumer Electronics Show here, Motorola (NYSE:MOT) and LG took the wraps off tablets powered by Google’s Android 3.0, dubbed Honeycomb, and Nvidia’s Tegra 2 processor. Though Honeycomb is not yet complete, vendors are promising to ship devices in the coming months.
Further, Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) is gearing to release its PlayBook tablet this quarter, while Apple likely will soon introduce an updated version of its iPad. And Hewlett-Packard has scheduled a Feb. 9 event where it may announce a webOS-powered tablet.
If consumer and enterprise users move the bulk of their computer use to tablets and smartphones–as some believe they will–then the relevance of Microsoft and Intel could fall into history.
“The future of computing is mobile. That doesn’t mean that desktops and notebooks go away, just that the growth appears to be in smartphones and other light computing platforms,” wrote Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart in response to my questions on the topic. “Right now, ARM and phone vendors have a decided advantage over Intel and PC manufacturers. This is not only relevant for tablets, but for smartphones as well–it’s why Apple, Dell, Asus, Acer, HP, et al are all trying to become smartphone vendors.”
Microsoft and Intel are attempting to reinsert themselves in the smartphone game, though their efforts are still in the early stages. As for tablets, Intel is working to supply chips for the gadgets but silicon vendors such as Nvidia have managed to capture the lion’s share of awareness in the space. For its part, Microsoft has said Windows Phone 7 is not intended for tablets and that tablet vendors should instead use its Windows 7 operating system for their devices, despite criticism that the platform is not suited for touch-based tablet computing.
Interestingly, according to a Financial Times article, Microsoft is at work on a “rewrite” of Windows geared toward touchscreen tablets. Microsoft representatives weren’t immediately available to provide details on the reported effort.
“Google’s Honeycomb poses a much bigger threat to Microsoft than it does to Apple,” wrote Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps. “Of the 24.1 million tablets we expect U.S. consumers to buy in 2011, the majority will still be iPads, but consumers looking for a cheaper, feature-rich alternative will turn to Google, not Microsoft.”
Asymo’s Horace Dediu took a broader view. In a post titled “This is the most exciting CES ever,” Dediu noted that PC makers have embraced platforms beyond Windows, and Microsoft has moved Windows beyond Intel architecture by embracing ARM Holdings. “These actions confirm the end of the PC era. Although most people would characterize the era as exemplified by a particular form factor or market, for me the definition of that era is the way the value chain was structured and hence how profits were captured.”
So what does this mean for the current crop of tablet and smartphone vendors? Despite evidence of a withering Wintel, it’s not a panacea. CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber told me that Android tablet vendors are already caught in a race to the bottom–a trend highlighted by Android tablets nearing the $100 mark–which indicates that vendors will have to innovate on the service layer to effectively compete. And they have a steep hill to climb, considering the work Apple has already done on the service layer (think iTunes and App Store).
Concluded Current Analysis’ Greengart: “One thing is certain: There is a rush to market here, and products that can deliver a clear and differentiated value proposition have a shot at standing out in the crowd. Slapping components together with a stock OS may work if you’ve got a time to market and distribution advantage, but that won’t be sustainable for long. There will be a lot of carnage along the way.”
T-Mobile USA is going to push its smartphone prices down in a bid to attract more first-time smartphone users to postpaid plans, the company’s CEO said.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm said the carrier plans to sell a number of devices running on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform that retail for $100 or less. “We are working with our vendors on this one to drive the price of smartphones down,” Humm said, adding that not all customers want an expensive, high-end device.
The push by T-Mobile, the nation’s No. 4 carrier, highlights the efforts that all operators have made recently to push smartphone prices down and change their pricing plans to attract more first-time smartphone buyers. Subsidies by carriers have helped bring the price of some Android phones to well below $100. T-Mobile itself offers several such deals, including for phones like the LG Optimus T and the Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) Charm. Sprint (NYSE:S) just announced that it will launch the HTC Evo Shift Jan. 9 for $149.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate on a new, two-year contract. Additionally, flat-rate carriers are offering cheap Android phones even without a subsidy. MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) offers the Huawei Ascend for $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate and Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) offers the phone for $140.
Aside from handset pricing, carriers are also working to lower the cost of smartphone data plans. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) rolled out tiered, usage-based data pricing last year, charging $15 for 200 MB and $25 for 2 GB of data. Both T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) have followed AT&T’s lead with similar data pricing options.
T-Mobile does not plan to gear its entire lineup toward to the low end of the market though, and will still offer high-end devices. However, the company has struggled to attract postpaid subscribers. T-Mobile lost 60,000 postpaid subscribers in the third quarter, an improvement from 140,000 net postpaid losses in the year-ago period but a sharp drop from 106,000 net postpaid additions in the second quarter.
The battle over network technology supremacy is reaching new heights, with both Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and T-Mobile USA trading claims over the performance of their next-generation networks.
Verizon Communications CTO Tony Melone dismissed T-Mobile’s claims that its upgraded HSPA+ network will offer service comparable to Verizon’s LTE network.
In an interview with CNet, Melone said HSPA+ provides incremental improvements via software and hardware upgrades and said it is possible to squeeze more performance out of HSPA+ technology. “So I am sure they are pushing the envelope on what can be done with HSPA+, but it doesn’t match what LTE is capable of,” he said. “The real difference in the technologies is when you look at what happens on the edge of the cell network, where the signal is weaker and speeds decrease. We’ve stated that average speeds on our network are 5 Mbps to 12 Mbps for downloads. And on the cell edge people are getting 1 Mbps to 3 Mbps on average. For HSPA, I’d say that the download would be a quarter of that or less. Folks who understand these technologies would have a hard time arguing with that.”
The verbal back-and-forth between carriers over network performance is nothing new, but has taken on a new twist now that both AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile claim HSPA+ is a “4G” technology.
Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, T-Mobile said at some point this year it plans to launch HSPA+ 42 technology, which provides theoretical peak speeds of 42 Mbps and represents a doubling of the speeds provided by the carrier’s current HSPA+ 21 network. T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said that HSPA+ 42 will provide speeds that are comparable to Verizon’s LTE network. “There’s very little difference,” he said, adding that T-Mobile has been testing T-Mobile’s planned HSPA+ 42 upgrade against Verizon’s LTE network in Las Vegas and that both networks provided average download speeds of around 8 Mbps.
Melone added that he thinks the only reason T-Mobile is continually pushing the limits on HSPA+ technology is because the company lacks the spectrum to move to LTE. “So they are using HSPA+ to transition,” he said. “I’d do the same thing if I were them.”
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Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) AdMob mobile advertising network now receives over 2 billion ad requests each day, more than quadrupling requests over the last year. According to Google, the AdMob network now fields more requests in each 24-hour period than it did in the entire month of December 2007; more than 100 million unique Android and iOS devices request ads each month, nearly doubling over the last six months. Asia leads all international markets in terms of regional growth, with monthly ad requests increasing 564 percent over the past year–Western Europe is next at 471 percent, followed by Oceania (363 percent) and North America (266 percent).
Google acquired AdMob for $750 million in 2009, finalizing the deal last May. According to research firm IDC, Google controlled 59 percent of the U.S. mobile advertising market (including search and display ads) at the end of 2010; prior to the AdMob deal, Google represented 48.6 percent. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which in January 2010 acquired mobile ad network Quattro Wireless for $275 million and introduced its iAd platform in July, finished 2010 controlling 8.4 percent of the market, IDC adds.