Posts Tagged ‘t-mobile’

Keeping Your Eyes and Ears Open

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Given the speed of technology advancements it is imperative that we all keep our eyes and ears open to new opportunities. In my opinion, there has not been anything as exciting as what we have seen take place in the mobile industry in the last 5 years - both here in the U.S. and abroad.

From a prepaid perspective, 2009 has to be the most impressive year yet. It was in early January that Boost Mobile introduced their $50 unlimited plan and from that point forward the “Prepaid Mobile Price Wars” began. Maisie Ramsay just recently wrote a great article titled “Duking It Out In Prepaid” in Wireless Week on this subject. Beyond the price wars, the introduction of smart phones and the demand for mobile applications have really changed the face of prepaid mobile.

Also in 2009 we have seen an explosion in the number of mobile applications developed, and more importantly paid for and downloaded. While Apple’s iTunes store model has been by far the most successful (2 billion applications downloaded to date), Nokia, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Windows have all introduced their application store models in an attempt to gain market share in this space. I foresee the day when having a mobile application for your company is just as important as having a website.

As I leave my hotel room this morning and make the short walk to the San Diego Convention Center to attend CTIA Wireless I.T. and Entertainment my eyes and ears will be open to the many new mobile opportunities that lie ahead for NetworkIP and our customers.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP and Jaduka

Prepaid Wireless Providers in Q2 2009

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

It won’t be long before the prepaid wireless providers are reporting their Q3 2009 numbers. Before that happens, I better get these Q2 2009 numbers posted. A BIG thanks to Stacey Higginbotham over at GigaOm for doing the grunt work and compiling this data and making it available for all of us to consume.

From these numbers it is evident that Verizon remains on-top (both postpaid and prepaid) in total number of subscribers and it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone after looking at these statistics on why Sprint bought up Virgin Mobile when they did.

What does surprise me is that MetroPCS, even after adding 206,000 new subscribers last quarter and taking some big strides to promote their services & roll out a number of new products and marketing campaigns, has seen their stock prices continue to drop this quarter. Since the beginning of Q3, we have watched their stock price decrease from $12.63 (Jul. 1st) to $8.25 (Sep. 8th).

It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of Q3 2009 plays out for MetroPCS and the other prepaid mobile providers. I have a strong suspicion that we will see these providers focus on data and become much more aggressive with their international calling plans.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

Leap Wireless (Cricket), reported Aug. 6
Wireless Service Revenue: $541.6 million
Wireless Operating Income: n/a
Wireless Data Revenue: n/a
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 203,000
Total Subscribers: 4.5 million
Prepaid Churn: 4.4%
Prepaid ARPU: $41.91

MetroPCS, reported Aug. 6
Wireless Service Revenue: $859.6 million
Wireless Operating Income: $111 million
Wireless Data Revenue: n/a
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 206,000
Total Subscribers: 6.3 million
Prepaid Churn: 5.8%
Prepaid ARPU: $40.52

T-Mobile, reported Aug. 6
Wireless Service Revenue: $5.34 billion
Wireless Operating Income: $425 million
Wireless Data Revenue: n/a
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 268,000
Total Subscribers: 33.5 million
Blended Churn: 3.1%
Postpaid ARPU: $48

Sprint, reported Jul. 29
Wireless Revenue: $7 billion
Wireless Operating Loss: $314 million
Wireless Data Revenue: n/a
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 777,000
Net Postpaid Subscriber Additions: 991,000
Total Subscribers: 48.8 million
Postpaid Churn: 2.05%
Prepaid Churn: 6.38%
Postpaid ARPU: $56
Prepaid ARPU: $34

Verizon, reported Jul. 27
Wireless Revenue: $15.5 billion
Wireless Operating Income: $4.46 billion
Wireless Data Revenue: $3.9 billion
Net Prepaid & Postpaid Subscriber Additions: 1.1 million
Total Subscribers: 87.7 million
Postpaid Churn: 1.01%
Postpaid ARPU: $51.10

AT&T, reported Jul. 23
Wireless Revenue: $13.25 billion
Wireless Operating Income: $3.2 billion
Wireless Data Revenue: $3.4 billion
Net Postpaid Subscriber Additions: 1.2 million
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 200,000
Blended Churn: 1.49%

Prepaid Press Expo 2009 Observations

Friday, September 4th, 2009

As part of my post conference ritual I take a long run the morning of my return home and I use my time on the trail to sort out what I saw, the conversations I had, and the presentations I sat through.

Following this year’s Prepaid Press Expo I have come to three simple conclusions:

1.    The prepaid calling card industry is consolidating and brands are more important than ever.
2.    The mobile industry, specifically prepaid mobile, is growing and evolving as a product.
3.    The prepaid calling card industry must leverage the mobile industry to succeed in the future.

The prepaid mobile industry has gone through some significant and positive changes in 2009. Let me set the stage for a moment about the prepaid mobile space before I go any further.

The commonly found post-paid billing model that we embrace in the U.S. is by no means the norm when we look at the rest of the world. In the U.S., prepaid mobile subscriptions account for less than 20% of all mobile subscriptions. Conversely, prepaid represents more than 80% of all mobile subscriptions worldwide.

There is a shift occurring in the U.S. from the traditional post-paid billing model to prepaid. In Q1 of 2009, for the first time ever, the number of new prepaid mobile subscriptions exceeded the number of new post-paid mobile subscriptions. Why is causing this shift to occur in the U.S.?

1.    It is evident that the economic crisis has enticed many people, especially those who were recently laid off from work, to make the move to prepaid mobile versus signing a 2-year long post-paid contract with a carrier.
2.    Earlier this year, mobile carriers such as Boost kicked off an unlimited nationwide calling plan for as low as $50.00 a month. Prepaid carriers such as Cricket, MetroPCS, T-Mobile, etc. quickly followed and now you can find a very nice unlimited nationwide calling plan (which also includes texting and data) for as low as $40.00 a month.
3.    The quality of mobile phones has improved significantly. In the past, prepaid mobile providers offered low-end, even refurbished phones that had very little appeal and very few features. Now, you can find very feature rich smart phones with high-end features such as e-mail, picture phones, data plans, blue-tooth, Wi-Fi, etc.

The demographics of the prepaid mobile market are rapidly changing in the U.S. From the beginning, prepaid mobile plans held a negative connotation – ie: they appealed to the “lower class”. This same undertone is not found in the international market. As a result of the slower economic times, we are seeing this negative implication being detached in the U.S. & rather than consumers viewing prepaid mobile as the lower class solution, prepaid has become the smart choice for the value conscious mobile consumer.

With 90% of today’s U.S. population having mobile subscriptions and by 2014 it’s projected that over 100% of the U.S. population will have mobile subscriptions, we must give this industry more attention than ever before. To highlight this point even further, in an Economist article titled “Cutting the cord” it was noted that one in every four households in the U.S. is already a cell phone only (CPO) household. The article goes on to suggest that if the current trend to adopt mobile services continues, that by 2025, landlines at home will no longer exist.

Realizing that mobile services are now ubiquitous to everyone, how do those in the prepaid calling card space leverage the growth in mobile?

1.    Market your products as extensions to mobile – Highlight how easy your product is to use via mobile phones.
2.    Incorporate features such as PIN-less Dialing, Auto Recharge, and Speed Dial. Remind yourselves that the mobile subscriber wants advanced and efficient solutions.
3.    Take advantage of direct marketing to the consumer by sending text messages to their phone announcing new features, new rates, and other special offerings on their prepaid long distance product.
4.    Deliver “clean”/reputable prepaid calling card products. The mobile subscriber expects to receive what is printed on the package.

Given our current environment, it is paramount that we focus our energies where the mobile industry is shifting. The prepaid calling card industry is consolidating and brands are more important than ever. The mobile industry, specifically prepaid mobile, is growing and evolving as a product. And most importantly, the prepaid calling card industry must leverage the mobile industry to succeed in the future.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Remaining Optimistic About CTIA ‘09

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

The annual CTIA conference kicked off in Las Vegas earlier today. Due to a conflict I was unable to make it for opening day, however, I’ll be on the conference floor both Thursday and Friday of this week.

According to today’s press releases about the show’s attendance more than 1,000 folks have registered to attend this event. Of the many wireless/mobile conferences in the U.S., I highly recommend you check out CTIA in the future if you have never attended before.

I first went to CTIA in 2007 when we were in our early stages of developing our Text-to-Talk products. My focus when attending CTIA that first time was to meet with all the major Short Messaging Service Center (SMSC) providers like Click-a-Tell, Sybase 365, VeriSign, etc. in order to establish SMS Points of Presence in the different countries we were targeting for these products.

While at the 2007 CTIA conference, I couldn’t help but be distracted by what was then a plethora of new mobile technologies. I’m referring to smart phones, mobile TV, voice-mail to text services, GPS, etc. Now, only two years later, we have 3G technologies, 4G and LTE networks are being engineered, and the end-all be-all game changer the Apple iPhone now exists and in my opinion is the ultimate Unified Communication tool for the consumer.

Given the poor economic climate we are currently in, the telecom industry has been no stranger to numerous layoffs, cutbacks, and even some Chapter 11s. So, as I prepare for CTIA tomorrow I’m trying to remain optimistic about the new technologies and services that the mobile operators and MVNOs will unveil. I suspect this industry to be focused more on providing value and savings to the consumer versus new and innovative services. In recent months numerous MVNOs have begun offering unlimited calling plans and they are in a fast paced race to gain market share. Reducing customer churn is also high on the priority list for all mobile operators and MVNOs right now.

In late February ‘09, Stacey Higginbotham of GigaOM assembled a Wireless Scorecard based on Q4 ’08 statistics from AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon. Based on Stacey’s breakdown she concludes that cheap rate plans win and that the iPhone is helping to keep AT&T running strong. To note, these numbers were released just prior to Sprint and T-Mobile releasing their $50 unlimited prepaid plans so this year’s Q1 numbers should answer whether those plans proved successful or not.

Tomorrow I’ll have a better since of what’s happening and how the carriers are responding. I remain optimistic and look forward to CTIA ’09 along with the other 1,000 attendees that I’ll be sharing the conference floor with.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

G1 Android Already Sold Out

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Two weeks ago today (September 23, 2008) Google officially announced & showed off the new HTC G1, aka the “Google Phone.” The G1 will run Google’s much anticipated Android mobile operating system & T-Mobile will provide service on their GSM network.

In my opinion, the G1 will be this first real competitor of Apple’s iPhone. One week following Google’s announcement & before the first phone had even shipped, T-Mobile announced that they had sold out of the G1. The demand for the G1 has far exceeded both Google’s & T-Mobile’s expectations. In an effort to respond to consumer demand, T-Mobile decided last week to triple the number of G1 mobile devices available for sale through pre-orders until October 22nd.

The excitement surrounding the release of the G1 Android goes beyond the fact that T-Mobile has sold out of their initial inventory. This is excitement can be seen through the numerous developments & announcements surrounding Android to include: Visa developing a mobile payment solution on Android, T-Mobile removing their 1GB data cap, & Amazon preloading their MP3 digital music store on the G1.

The future potential of Google’s Android operating system is almost limitless. HTC is predicting up to 2 million Android phones will be sold by end of 2009. Google is also making waves with mobile carriers with their hopes to free the mobile device from the mobile carrier with a concept they call “Instant Bid.” Expectations remain high & I like many others believe that Google will deliver & expose the necessary technologies for others to develop the next generation of mobile solutions.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Text Messaging Fees Equal Profit Center

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

T-Mobile announced that they are increasing their text messaging fee from 15¢ to 20¢ a text message. The rate increase will go into effect on August 29th & will only affect those consumers who do not have a text messaging plan in place. T-Mobile is simply joining ranks with the likes of AT&T, Verizon Wireless, & Sprint who already have increased their text messaging rates to 20¢ a text message.

It was only a year ago when these same providers increased their rates from 10¢ to 15¢, While any price hike should frustrate consumers; what’s frustrates me most about this increase is that as services become mainstream they usually go down in price, not up. The providers have been raking the consumers over the coals for years now on text messaging fees. I can remember when text messaging was 5¢ for sending a message & incoming messages were free. Now it costs me 40¢ to message someone to tell them I’m running ahead of schedule & for them to acknowledge my text.

This price increase by T-Mobile will inevitably force those users who haven’t already signed up for prepaid text messaging plans to do so now. Domestic only text messaging plans offered by T-Mobile include $4.99 per month for 400 messages, $9.99 for 10,000 messages, & $14.99 for unlimited messages. Of course these plans offer a much better rate assuming the user actually sends this many text messages. Many consumers will simply sign up for one of these plans just because they’d prefer to know what they will be charged at the end of the month versus worrying about how much 20¢ a text message will add up to. Regardless, the service providers stand to make a hefty profit on text messaging & will continue doing so until Smartphones become more ubiquitous & chat applications are introduced.