Friday, December 12, 2014

T-Mobile's New International MVNO Partner - Vodafone! Slap in Verizon's Face?

What is It?

T-Mobile announced that it reached an agreement with Vodafone Americas for new MVNO-based services for Vodafone's 400 US based multinational customers and potentially 500 customers who do have a strong US presence. Availability for the service is expected to roll out in late fall 2015. 


Clearly both parties benefit from this relationship.

For T-Mobile, this is a way to get more subscribers on its network. 400 US based multinationals get the carrier indirectly into enterprise where competitors AT&T and Verizon Wireless have long dominated. While the knee-jerk reaction is to focus on smartphones, the announcement helps T-Mobile's other wholesale segment, machine-to-machine (M2M). 

For Vodafone, the US-based mobile offering provides the operator to enable service bundling opportunities, including low cost mobile roaming across its 27 country footprint.   The T-Mobile agreement should be more than an overall US play as Vodafone Americas include Canada and Latin America.  The company will push this as part of Vodafone's OneNet solution which touts fixed-wireless solutions.  The solution bundles include the usual enterprise operator offerings such as cloud services, M2M, telecom expense management, security and access to a global IP-VPN network.

The question for T-Mobile is many total wholesale subscribers do 400 multinational customers come with? Perhaps, it doesn't matter since in wholesale, there is none of the high cost of customer acquisition as in its retail segment.  The benefit that carrier is also hoping for is to move enterprise multinationals from Verizon Wireless and AT&T.  

So given Vodafone's long history with Verizon Wireless, it does seem to be a slap in the face. After all, the 400 target customer accounts are all US based and the potential for the other 500 potential accounts have a strong US presence, which means some could be existing Verizon Wireless clients. But then like many multinational enterprises, deals with multiple vendors provides choice and negotiating leverage which means T-Mobile/Vodafone Americas may not have exclusive deals.

It's also telling that Vodafone did not cut the MVNO deal with AT&T since AT&T's current LTE US footprint is larger overall. But if T-Mobile's wholesale business unit follows its retail unit, being the low-cost value provider could be the swaying element on top of its expanding national LTE network message, one with a goal that meets 300M POPs by end of year 2015.