The past two weeks have brought forth some rather market-changing news on the U.S. carrier front. Separate deals involving Sprint,www.sprint.com, Overland Park, Kan., and T-Mobile, www.t-mobile.com, Bellevue, Wash., have the potential of shaking up the way voice and data services are delivered to businesses—construction included.
First the T-Mobile news, which came down roughly two weeks ago, which proposes a deal that would merge T-Mobile USA with MetroPCS, www.metropcs.com, according to the parent companies of each, Deutsche Telekom, www.telekom.com, and MetroPCS Communications, respectively. Under the new deal the companies would create a company that would keep the T-Mobile name, and become what it calls a “value carrier” focused on competing on value.
Initial news of the deal has focused on the idea that combined T-Mobile and MetroPCS spectrum would provide greater network coverage, deeper LTE network deployment, and a path toward 4G. In addition, existing MetroPCS customers will be migrated to a common LTE-based network as they upgrade their handsets as the larger company, catering to the growing no-contract market, would be able to sell more attractive handsets and applications.
With regards to Sprint, this past Monday Japanese carrier Softbank, www.softbank.com, Okyo, Japan, confirmed the fact it will be investing roughly $20.1 billion into the carrier, ultimately owning 70% of Sprint, in which it will turn into a publically traded company called New Sprint.
In a call with investors this week Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO, Softbank, said the transaction would provide an excellent opportunity for his company to leverage its expertise in smartphone and next-generation high-speed networks (namely LTE) in order to help drive the mobile Internet revolution in the United States. Softbank is fast growing and is considered the No. 3 carrier in Japan, a region of the world that some analysts consider to be highly “gadget centric.”
What this all ultimately means for construction companies is unclear. In some respects, the news related to Sprint might ultimately prove to have more of a direct impact on this industry than that involving T-Mobile. Of the respondents to the 2010 Constructech IT Playbook, 38% were using Sprint, with T-Mobile receiving minimal response. However, when it comes to data connections—namely around things like M2M (machine-to-machine), T-Mobile is a definite competitor. According to the Connected World whitepaper, ‘The Coming Age of M2M and Connected Devices’ T-Mobile is considered No. 3 among the big four in the United States, in terms of M2M connections, ahead of Sprint. However, Sprint continues to make considerable movement in M2M, adding new data connections at a rapid pace.
The fact that M2M is being adopted in greater volume in construction could mean the T-Mobile move could have eventual impacts on this market. For the here and now, however, connected devices like smartphones and tablets, operating on next-generation networks such as LTE will have the most immediate impact on construction. This, coupled with Sprint’s strong focus on M2M, is where the Softbank news could have large implications for construction.
Construction companies should always be evaluating their technology providers, carriers included. As the mobile carrier landscape continues to evolve, it will be important for companies to examine the details, both from a near-term and a long-term perspective.