T-Mobile US Inc. seems to be on fire in recent history. The “un-carrier,” as it bills itself, came out of the FCC auction last year winning an impressive amount of spectrum for future 5G deployment. Financial performance continues to be strong as the company adds subscribers and profit to its bottom line. CEO John Legere is front and center on social media handing out tickets to concerts and sharing slow cooker recipes. For all of its success, though, the company is simply not focused on mid-market and large enterprise customers.
If it’s on the Internet it has to be true, right?
I laugh about that adage, but when it comes to companies promoting their service offerings, a lot can gleam from onsite presence. Case in point: T-Mobile Business. If you click through its website pages, you’ll find a lot of promotion around business lines, quality of voice and data coverage, and business customer service satisfaction awards. Where are the true enterprise service offerings though? On Sprint’s website, it offers collaboration, managed IP telephony, SD-WAN, cloud and managed networking solutions, and more. Verizon offers many business transformation services on its website focused on federal, state, and local government (including education). AT&T , with its Foundry program, offers its customers advisory services in many areas including IoT (Internet of Things). I’ve previously written about the AT&T Foundry—you can find that article here, if interested.
Will 5G steer the magenta ship into enterprise waters?
T-Mobile makes boastful claims about its mobile 5G readiness. The company has referenced on numerous past financial earnings calls that it expects to beat the other tier-one carriers in the United States on deployment. My question is, what does that mean beyond super-fast speeds and lower latency for AR mobile gaming like Pokémon GO? What is the company doing to go after more important potential use cases such as remote telesurgery, industrial automation, smart city deployment, and autonomous driving? I’d like to see the company step up and speak specifically to how it will capitalize on its spectrum holdings. In particular, T-Mobile holds an impressive amount of 600 MHz spectrum that combined with 5G NR (New Radio) could establish a strong beachhead for IoT deployments.
Does T-Mo have the right leadership DNA?
T-Mobile has spoken about its desire to expand into commercial markets as a growth driver, but as of December 2017, the company only controls 2-3% share of the space. It’s my opinion that the current management team may be too overly aligned and focused on the consumer. Sprint recently hired an extremely capable person in Ivo Rook to run its IoT practice. Rook comes from Vodafone , where he managed a $1B IoT business that spanned 30 countries. George Fischer runs Verizon’s Enterprise Solutions Group, which focuses on verticals such as healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, and transportation, with an emphasis on networking and IT infrastructure. Igal Elbaz, whom I’ve spent time in the past, is at the helm of the AT&T Foundry program. T-Mobile may need to make similar investments in new leadership to help architect a winning strategy in commercial markets.
At the end of the day, a carrier must bring solutions that solve business problems if it wants to be successful in the enterprise. Selling multiple lines or guaranteeing service coverage simply won’t cut it. Does T-Mobile have what it takes to translate its consumer success into the business world? Time will tell.