Monday, March 28, 2011

Wi-Fi May Just be the Glue to Hold AT&T, T-Mobile Networks Together

Dan Jones of LightReading, a tough critic of the mobile operator landscape, taped this brief video at CTIA 2011 in which he discusses how T-Mobile and AT&T can tie together their networks in the early days of the merger.

He says the combination of assets - AT&T's vast network of public wi-fi hotspots and T-Mobile's Wi-Fi Calling service - can be brought together ahead of the hardware for the 3G and eventually LTE networks: "Think of Wi-Fi as the glue that will hold it all together before we get to fourth generation services."

Watch the video below. What do you think about Dan's prediction?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The 0.2% Solution

At the “Path to 4G” event hosted by Fierce Wireless, and held in conjunction with the CTIA 2011 show in Orlando, Sprint’s vp of network development Iyad Tarazi disclosed that the company has 0.1 million femtocells deployed.

I think the word ‘disclosed’ is key.

0.1 million (aka 100,000) femtocells is nothing to be proud of, but honestly, I don't know what Sprint's expectations were.

Let’s consider the history.  Sprint launched their ‘Airave’ to much fanfare in August 2008.  At the time, the devices were featured prominently in their retail shops.  And in August, 2010, Sprint actually offered to give them away for FREE.

So after three years and giving them away for FREE, Sprint’s been able to actually pawn off 0.1 million devices.   With 50 million subscribers, this works out to a paltry 0.2% of the subscriber base.

How many of these units are actually active?  Many people I speak with who got a femtocell (not necessarily from Sprint) say they tried it and discarded it.

Compare this with T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi Calling service, which has roughly 5 million subscribers.  Of course they aren’t active all the time, but it’s certainly a lot more than 0.1m.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

T-Mobile Helps Customers Stay Connected to Japan

T-Mobile US announced last week that it will waive call charges, Wi-Fi Calling and text message charges to and from Japan, in an effort to provide some relief to customers with loved ones in the ravaged country.

Here are the terms of the offer:
  • T-Mobile USA is enabling phone calls to Japan for postpaid customers without charges for international long distance through March 31, 2011, and retroactive to March 11, 2011.
  • T-Mobile postpaid customers can make Wi-Fi calls to and from Japan free of charge through March 31, 2011, and retroactive to March 11, 2011.
  • Text (SMS) messaging is also free of charge to and from Japan for T-Mobile postpaid customers through March 31, 2011 and retroactive to March 11, 2011. 
 Plus, customers can donate $10 by texting "REDCROSS" to 90999. There's no charge for those texts.

We just wanted to help spread the word, and our hearts go out to those people in need.

Three, Two, One, Launch!

At CTIA yesterday, T-Mobile announced three new phones with Wi-Fi Calling.

First up, the lightening fast G2x from LG (aka Optimus 2x).  This new device sports the Tegra dual-core processor from NVIDIA.  As the review said, “applications literally felt like they were opening and closing instantly.”  Throw in Wi-Fi Calling, and this phone is sure to be a winner.

Next up is the “Astound”, or Nokia C7.  Of course Nokia’s position in the US market is slim.  But after using the phone on the Nokia stand at CTIA, I have to say it isn’t half bad.  It’s not a ‘web’ phone like Android or iPhone, but as Sasha Segan suggests, it could be “T-Mobile’s best feature phone”.  Best feature:  Wi-Fi Calling!

Finally is the new Sidekick 4G from Samsung.  In July 2010, T-Mobile asked loyal Sidekick customers to “stay tuned for exciting updates in the months ahead.”  I guess they meant 9 months ahead, because the Sidekick franchise has been reborn with this cool new devices – which includes Wi-Fi Calling.

It's clear that T-Mobile is continuing to aggressively pursue their Wi-Fi Calling advantage in the Market.  More than half of all phones available on T-Mobile's website today are Wi-Fi Calling enabled.  It looks like this is a winner.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

T-Mobile, AT&T and Me

Sunday’s announcement that AT&T was going to buy smaller rival T-Mobile did come as a surprise to many in the mobile industry.

At a reception for the CTIA Wireless show being held in Orlando (ironically hosted by Sprint), talk of the merger was a central topic for the night.

But rather than thinking about it in macro terms, I wanted to think about what it would mean to me, both a T-Mobile subscriber and being involved in providing Smart Wi-Fi (aka Wi-Fi Calling) to T-Mobile.

One of the reasons I’m passionate about Wi-Fi Calling is that it’s a critical tool for me.  I get one/two bars of edge service in my house and virtually no 3G.  Yet every time I pick up my phone at home, my signal is strong because of Wi-Fi.

So I was pleased when I saw Sasha Sagan’s post yesterday titled “The Five Best T-Mobile Features ATT Must Keep”, I was excited to see others excited about Wi-Fi Calling:

2. Wi-Fi Calling. AT&T and Verizon say their networks are so good that you should never need a backup. T-Mobile is humble enough to admit that, yeah, sometimes a Wi-Fi signal is better than a cellphone signal. T-Mobile's Wi-Fi calling solution is the best in the business. It's a lifeline in weak-signal areas, and it saves you big bucks abroad.

The others are good ideas too (‘Stock’ Android devices, true HSPA+, “Even More Plus”, and Great Customer Service), and are important to me as a consumer.  But I'm amazed by the number of tweets that are directed at having AT&T perpetuate Wi-Fi Calling.

@LunaticSX: It’d be awesome if T-Mobile USA’s UMA WiFi calling ( ) became available to all AT&T customers, as well.
@gwapz: I just hope AT&T adopts T-Mobile UMA features.
@mikethewhite: @TMobile Please don't let At&t ruin #wificalling it's your best feature by far. (and non contract even more plus plans)

In the short term, Wi-Fi Calling should continue unabated.  It’s a significant sales and customer care advantage for T-Mobile.  Longer term, I’ve always believed that AT&T was an ideal operator to benefit from tighter Wi-Fi integration.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wi-Fi Calling for Canada Businesses

Three cheers for Canada's Rogers Wireless ... a steady UMA workhorse for years now! Last week, the operator announced it launched Canada's first Wi-Fi voice service for businesses. The goal? To address business' need for reliable and cost-effective connectivity. It's an expansion of Rogers' existing UMA service packages for studentsRogers' UMA for Students, which it launched last summer.

This quote from the press release explains the value Rogers wants to deliver its business customers with the new service plan: 

"Our business customers are telling us they need flexible connectivity that just works - no matter where they are. And they want it at a predictable, competitive price," says Gordon Stein, Vice President, Business Segment, Rogers Communications Inc. "With this service, business people can be confident that all of their calls will be clear as they move seamlessly from registered internal Wi-Fi systems to the Rogers 3G network. This combination of flexibility and cost certainty is a powerful advantage for growing businesses."

There's an accompanying video interview with telecom analyst Jon Arnold where he talks about the flexibility of the service and the ease of use. He says: "Wi-Fi calling is a smart and simple way to make your business voice communications dollars work better for you.  It's nice to see companies like Rogers thinking like a customer and bringing services like this to market."

There's also a whitepaper (PDF) and a new web page.

If you're in business in Canada, check it out.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nokia C7 To Come with Wi-Fi Calling?

Nokia keeps delivering Wi-Fi Calling phones for T-Mobile.  Here's another example, offered up by

Well done Nokia.  The C7 joins a long line of Wi-Fi Calling enabled phones at T-Mobile, the E73, the 6301, the 6086.  And there are probably more.

Friday, March 04, 2011

T-Mobile Talks Up It's Wi-Fi Calling Advantage

At Mobile World Congress, T-Mobile’s Josh Lonn spent some time talking with several different editors about the company’s success with the Wi-Fi Calling service.

In Monica Alleven’s article “Wi-Fi Calling is Talk of the Town,” she quotes Mr. Lonn saying “We believe this is more effective [than femtocells].”

Mike Dano with Fierce Wireless wrote that T-Mobile has approximately 5 millions Wi-Fi Calling users today, with about 1.25 million on the new Android version of the service.

In Total Telecom’s piece, “Wi-Fi Offload?  There’s an app for that,” Mary Lennighan quotes Mr. Lonn saying: “We’re putting [coverage] on the device side rather than something that plugs into the wall.”

Network World’s Nancy Gohring’s trend piece on ‘small cells’ on femtocells and Wi-Fi covered both sides of the debate.  But T-Mobile’s quote hit the nail on the head. “Wi-Fi is robust.  Why do something as complicated as a femto?” questioned Mr. Lonn.

But it was TMoNews that really summed up the situation, writing “Personally, I believe T-Mobile hit a home run with the Wi-Fi Calling service over that of a femtocell.”

I couldn’t agree more.