Friday, October 27, 2006

T-Mobile... Finally

Well, for us in the UMA community, the launch of T-Mobile’s service in Seattle this week comes with a big sigh of... FINALLY! T-Mobile has been refining their service offer for months and completed an incredible amount of pre-market validation, through multiple, exhaustive trials to work through issues.

The result is a targeted service launch designed to start slow but quickly roll out across the country. The rumor is that you can take your UMA phone to any T-Mobile hotspot in the country and it will work, i.e. the entire T-Mo US footprint has been provisioned with the service.

In fact I was talking to one analyst who was taking the phone to Korea to see if the service would work over Wi-Fi from the hotel. That’s one way to get GSM phones to work in a CDMA environment.

The one comment I’ve heard several times now is that the $20/month price point seems high. I think this is classic early market adopter pricing. There is a certain percentage of the market with high demand and low price sensitivity, and T-Mobile might as well capture what revenues they can from that market now while they are the only provider in the market.

But it doesn’t take a genius to look ahead a couple years. $20 becomes $15, which becomes $10, then $5... then does voice over Wi-Fi (in the home and office) simply become free as part of a $40/month cellular plan?

With UMA, T-Mobile’s cost structure is optimized to support such a service plan. The interesting question is, what do the other operators do?

No comments: