Recently, fellow principal analyst (and my “The G2 on 5G” podcast partner in crime) Anshel Sag and I attended T-Mobile’s inaugural analyst summit along with Moor Insights & Strategy founder and chief analyst Patrick Moorhead. I have been critical of the Uncarrier before the Sprint acquisition given its exclusive focus on the consumer market. Flash forward past its merger with Sprint and T-Mobile for Business has the wind at its back today.
Sag, Moorhead, and I would like to share our insights gleaned from the event and how the company is leaning into its 5G deployment to deliver compelling enterprise services based on its 5G network deployment leadership in the United States.
A strong foundation for 5G enterprise service delivery
There is no question that Team Magenta continues to disrupt the consumer mobility space with a customer centricity approach focusing on transparent pricing, value bundling, and more. Wall Street has responded positively, and the company has a higher market valuation than AT&T and Verizon, unheard of a year ago.
However, there has been a lack of balance with respect to the company’s focus on the enterprise market in the past. That strategy is now clearly changing with several recent announcements leading up to its analyst summit in Bellevue earlier this month. More on that in a moment.
At a high level, T-Mobile now offers the only nationwide 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) service based on its low-band spectrum build-out, supported by its published coverage map. It is hard to argue with its assumption given that subscribership eclipses over one million activations and a projection of reaching seven to eight million by 2025. That’s nearly twice that of its closest rival Verizon, and T-Mobile has translated its massive FWA footprint into a Business Internet service that offers tiered pricing based on data usage.
Equally compelling is T-Mobile’s T-IoT initiative launched earlier this year that aims to simplify the acquisition and deployment of IoT solutions on a global basis with its parent Deutsche Telekom. What I like about the program’s focus is an access-agnostic approach that includes 5G as well as NB-IoT, LTE-M, and LTE coupled with both traditional and flat-rate unlimited connectivity pricing to offer customers choice and flexibility.
Finally, at Mobile World Congress Americas in late September, T-Mobile announced four industry blueprints that complement its previously announced Advanced Network Solutions offering private, public, and hybrid 5G networking connectivity. The blueprints predefine sensors and other devices from best of breed partners that aim to simplify deployment in manufacturing, retail, smart city, and logistics environments. From my perspective, private networking solutions are not a “one size fits all” and the combination of T-Mobile’s T-IoT program is providing the company a highly credible fast ramp into the enterprise with a compelling 5G anchored services offering.
Analyst summit key takeaways
T-Mobile’s held its first analyst summit in its Tech Experience 5G Hub in its own backyard of Bellevue. In March, the company opened an impressive 24,000 square foot facility. It is an inviting space that is designed for developers to unleash their creativity with 5G, and it served as the venue for the event. As analysts we have seen numerous “labs” those that are demo centers and those that are active working spaces. Our impression was this was very much a work hub designed to foster true innovation and compelling applications.
Over the course of a day and a half, T-Mobile for Business leadership outlined its vision, deployment updates, 5G service strategy, use case investigations, and go-to market engagement plans. As a firm, we will dive into several highlights and share our insights into what we find compelling.
From a vision perspective, President Callie Field spoke to her team’s customer centricity approach to enterprise service delivery. On the surface, this may seem to be an obvious strategy, but in my experience as a product marketer that is not always the case. Often in the tech world, companies develop products and services and then seek a fit. What also makes Ms. Field credible in this regard is her prior experience at T-Mobile leading customer care and experience. This has all culminated in the Uncarrier’s Advanced Network and Industry Solutions and T-IoT program that according to Ms. Field and her leadership team, is seeing great interest from both current enterprise customers and new prospects. A handful of those logos were shared under non-disclosure given these program launches are new but suffice it to say they are an impressive bunch.
From a deployment perspective, company executives also provided an update on its mid band deployment plans and process for rapidly upgrading sites. The company can claim first to 5G Standalone (SA) deployment with its low band assets, but mid band SA build-out will unlock the true promise of 5G from a propagation, throughput, and latency perspective. This should immediately translate to an enhancement to the company’s 5G Business Internet service to accelerate adoption of its public, private, and hybrid industry solutions platform. Regarding its site upgrade plans, T-Mobile likens the process to a factory employing lean and continuous delivery principals to complete an astounding 1,000+ site upgrades weekly. That is an impressive pace and could further widen the company’s 5G deployment leadership relative to AT&T and Verizon in the short term.
From a 5G service strategy perspective, Mishka Dehghan, SVP Strategy, Product, & Solutions Engineering and John Saw, EVP, Advanced & Emerging Technologies spent considerable time diving into the company’s current service offerings as well as speaking to forward looking 5G use cases that are being birthed out of the 5G Hub, T-Mobile Accelerator program, and T-Mobile Ventures. I have known both Ms. Dehghan and Mr. Saw dating back to their days with Sprint and both bring a significant level of enterprise service acumen to T-Mobile for Business. Ms. Dehghan detailed how the company focuses on four enterprise requirements that include ubiquitous connectivity, end-to-end service delivery, business outcomes, and digital transformation. Ms. Dehghan’s vertical solution roadmap was comprehensive, and realistically covered both horizontal and vertical market segment requirements.
I can personally validate that those are the right vector priorities based on my thirty years of experience in the corporate world. To feed that process, Mr. Saw spent time discussing both current and more forward looking 5G enterprise use case investigations. Sag found three 5G applications most compelling. The first involves the current pairing of T-Mobile’s 5G network with industrial AR and VR applications, most notably through the operator’s partnerships with companies such as Taqtile, Lenovo and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces program. These efforts focus on immersive remote assistance with SMEs, training, and guided quality controls and have the potential to disrupt the field service industry. Additionally, Mr. Saw discussed the ability to leverage 5G to improve the sporting event experience and create new monetization opportunities, which Sag believes will become a major application for venues as 5G upload speeds continue to improve and more professional leagues enable multi-view capabilities. A notable example is Major League Baseball, which added a 5G catcher camera angle for the most recent All-Star Game. The third and most impactful application Mr. Saw pointed to is leveraging the power of T-Mobile’s long-range 5G network and AI in partnership with Pano AI. Pano AI’s solution detects wildfires and alerts first responders more quickly, thus improving detection times and mitigating devastation of lives and property. Pano AI’s platform could be a game changer since, according to T-Mobile, there were 60,000 wildfires that destroyed over seven million acres in the United States in 2021.
Finally, from a go-to market perspective, T-Mobile recently hired George Fischer, SVP of Sales, from Verizon earlier this year. Ironically, Patrick Moorhead, our firm’s founder, worked with Mr. Fischer at NCR many years ago. Mr. Fischer spent considerable time detailing his plans for sales engagement through a multi-tiered approach that will blend both direct sales engagement, consultancy practices, and large IT channel partners based on market segment to ensure proper coverage. I have also spent considerable time in channel sales and marketing roles and found his sales planning to be one of the most comprehensive in my experience.
Sag, Moorhead, and I all have separate ways of evaluating a company’s value proposition and future prospects. Moorhead looks specifically to senior management quality, past experiences and track record, leadership and attitude. To say the least, Moorhead was extremely optimistic after his deeper conversations on the strategy, culture, and approaches with T-Mobile For Business executive leadership. This team gets it.
T-Mobile continues to capitalize on its 5G network deployment leadership, and it is encouraging to see the company’s T-Mobile for Business segment mature. As a firm, we were all impressed at the analyst summit to witness T-Mobile’s consumer centricity approach be equally applied to its enterprise strategy and execution. Moorhead thought it was the best first analyst event he has attended in a decade. Alaska Airlines is a compelling example of the Uncarrier’s early success, leaning into 5G to streamline its operations and provide an enhanced traveler experience. It is also worth noting that the T-Mobile for Business executive team leadership is deep, and chemistry seems high – that intangible should also serve as a bedrock for the division’s future success.
We believe that T-Mobile for Business’ biggest challenges will not be technological, but marketing, sales and distribution. The plans we saw were solid, but in general, businesses are conservative by nature and selling, particularly to large enterprises, takes time. Some relationships run decades long. Consequently, T-Mobile for Business’ quickest opportunity will be in VSB and SBs where switching is easier. As TMFB gains share with those markets, and we believe it will continue, it can drive the cash to keep innovating and capture those more conservative, larger enterprises.
At the end of the day, competition in any market breeds innovation and choice, and T-Mobile is on a path to bring its disruptive presence and new 5G services to the business world in full force.
Chief Analyst Patrick Moorhead and Principal Analyst Anshel Sag also contributed to this article.