Articles by Mark Lowenstein
T-Mobile cleverly coined the term "uncarrier" to market its maverick moves, changing the game in several aspects of mobile services over the past eighteen months. As the market becomes more competitive, and as the delta between the traditional levers of price, network, device, and value-added services continues to narrow, it is an interesting exercise to consider other "outside the box" moves that wireless operators might initiate. So, here's my contribution of ten 'uncarrier' moves I'd like to see.
With the continued growth in demand for data and proliferation of private and public Wi-Fi hotspots, the idea of a 'Wi-Fi First' wireless service has become a favorite discussion topic. Republic Wireless and Scratch Wireless are two MVNOs that are already offering a Wi-First (my term) service, using the Sprint network as cellular backup when not within Wi-Fi coverage. The leading cable MSOs, who have formed the Cable WiFi Alliance, have deployed hundreds of thousands hotspots, and are turning millions of home routers into "neighborhood hotspots" by issuing a second, "public' SSID. Many believe that the cable companies will eventually offer a Wi-First service as a value-add to their broadband customers and as a way of competing with cellular.
This is a critical time in the communications and digital media industries. I'm not arguing for a spate of new regulations, but we do need the public sector to be proactively engaged and involved, in two respects.
SoftBank CEO Masayashi Son, in a Washington tour in March, implied that one of his key goals for Sprint is to become a competitive alternative in broadband, not just wireless. DISH's efforts to enter the mobile space are also predicated on using wireless as a way of offering some form of home broadband service--a key missing link in its residential offerings.
There is tremendous innovation going on, in many sectors of mobile, and in other areas of the digital ecosystem. But most of this I would categorize as "small i" innovation, not "big i" innovation. As far as something game-changing, I think we're in a bit of a "harvesting," or "pause" period.
Regulators blocked the AT&T/T-Mobile acquisition and have signaled their distaste for a possible Sprint takeover of T-Mobile. Yet, it appears that Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable has a reasonable chance of being approved. Why is that?
With CES out of the way, it is now time to turn to the serious business of 2014. Since we all like to start the year with resolutions, goals, and objectives, here's my 2014 "To Do" for some of the wireless industry's key players.
Well, it looks like 2016 has arrived a little early. We have all known that a Sprint-TMO combination was a distinct possibility at some point, but believed, given the acquisition, and re-capitalization deals involving both companies just this year, that things would play out for awhile. But Sprint's thinking is that if a merger is a distinct inevitability, perhaps better to do it now. I think this makes some sense, and might be better long-term for the wireless industry and consumers.
It's mid-November, which means the beginning of "prediction season" for the analyst community. I'd like to kick things off with a bit of a twist.
How often does this happen to you: Your phone is displaying five bars of 4G or four bars of Wi-Fi, but the data speeds are very slow. This "disconnect" between what a user thinks they should be experiencing and what they are actually experiencing is occurring with increasing frequency. There is any number of explanations in a given situation, but is often due to capacity constraints on the network.