T-Mobile aims to grow B2B share with customized plans, more options

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T-Mobile USA may be a small player in the wireless B2B market, but the company wants to grow its market share significantly this year by focusing on plans that do not gouge enterprise customers on pricing, according to Frank Sickinger, the carrier's senior vice president of B2B. The carrier also plans to offer enterprise customers new products and services.

To that end, T-Mobile just announced that it is adding new hosted and on-premise MobileIron mobile device management (MDM) services to its portfolio. T-Mobile also said that for business customers that want around-the-clock managed service and mobile helpdesk support, they can turn to its new partner, Mission Critical Wireless, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Digital Management.

The addition of MobileIron as a new MDM service producer is indicative of T-Mobile's efforts to give enterprise customers more options, Sickinger said in a recent interview with FierceWireless. T-Mobile works with around a half-dozen MDM companies, he noted, including Good Technology, AirWatch and Soti.

Sickinger estimated that T-Mobile currently has 5 or 6 percent of the wireless B2B market and that the company expects to grow that figure this year thanks to the investments it has made in B2B, including increased staffing and new products. However, he said that while the growth will be "meaningful" this year, the carrier is unlikely to crack 10 percent market share by the end of 2013.

Sickinger said the company spent a good portion of the second half of 2012 upgrading its business platform capabilities, including adding support for pooled data plans. "If a company wants to sign up for 500 GB of data across 500 users, each of those users can be signed up on 1 GB plan but we would not charge any overage until the common pool is used up," he said. Sickinger said the goal is to reduce bill shock for CIOs and add more predictability to billing.

Sickinger said larger U.S. carriers "are trying to capitalize on the growth in data usage in order to take a lot more revenue in the form of overages." He said T-Mobile is working with enterprise customers to make sure that they are offered the best plans to suit their needs so they do not get "gouged."

T-Mobile is also running a promotion in the first quarter that offers enterprise subscribers up to $200 in credits per line to switch their service over to T-Mobile. Sickinger said the amount of the credit will be determined by how many business services customers buy through T-Mobile; the more services, the higher the credit.

Sickinger said the carrier's impending launch of LTE will be a boon for its B2B business. "On the LTE side, I think we have an LTE story that is pretty much unrivaled," he said. T-Mobile plans to deploy LTE to 100 million POPs by mid-year and 200 million by year-end. In many markets, the company expects that it will be able to launch LTE on 2x20 MHz channels.

Not only will T-Mobile continue to run its HSPA+ network, which now covers 220 million people, but the carrier now has HSPA+ on its refarmed 1900 MHz spectrum covering 126 million POPs, he noted.

Additionally, Sickinger said that T-Mobile's coming launch of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone will be a "significant contributor" to growth in the B2B business since there is so much pent-up demand for it on T-Mobile's network.

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