T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) and Sprint (NYSE: S) both plan to offer a service that will let customers share their primary phone number with other connected devices just after AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) unveiled such a service, which it calls "NumberSync."
"At this time, Sprint is exploring offering a service that would allow a customer's smartphone, tablet and other devices to share a single phone number," Sprint said in a statement to FierceWireless. "Innovation is at the core of our business. We will provide additional details at a later time."
T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert did not offer any details on the service, but told Re/code that T-Mobile would go beyond what AT&T is promising for its initial offering.
"What we are working on will make this version one offering from AT&T look small," Sievert said, taking a chance to tweak AT&T, as T-Mobile CEO John Legere often does. "Our strategy is to ask customers what they want and need, and then build it. AT&T's is to build or buy things, and then try to convince customers they asked for it."
As Re/code notes, T-Mobile is actually the only one of the four Tier 1 carriers that does not offer a shared data plan. If customers can share their phone number seamlessly with smart watches, tablets, fitness bands and other connected devices, that might make them more likely to buy additional devices.
AT&T has been testing the concept, which grew out of work done at its foundry in Palo Alto, Calif., for some time, and it was code-named "Cascade" and used to be called "twinning." Now, the service is finally ready for commercialization.
The AT&T solution, which will be free of charge, operates in AT&T's network using IMS technology and call and text message resolution occurs within the network. That means that a customer's primary phone doesn't even need to be powered on or even connected to the network for it to work. If customers miss a call, they can manage all voicemails from a single inbox. The goal is to untether customers from their smartphones by having the same number linked to multiple devices, and the first compatible NumberSync devices will be available later this month, with more announced in time for the holidays.
Representatives from Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the carrier's plans to offer a similar service.
- see this Re/code article
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Article updated Oct. 15 at 10:10 a.m. ET to add a comment from Sprint.