With AT&T looking to buy T-Mobile, and Verizon and Sprint scrambling to react, business and IT execs need to pay attention as these carriers become cloud providers. It's now down to three choices on which to bet your business.
And then there were three. Three carriers that is: AT&T, Verizon
and-in the rearview mirror-Sprint Nextel.
the worry among the upcoming CTIA show organizers and PR community was that all
the news had already been delivered at the Mobile World Congress, AT&T
erased that worry March 20 by announcing a $39
billion deal to acquire T-Mobile
. I was reading the news while Jet Blueing
down to Orlando, Fla., for the annual CTIA event, which is dominated by the
major carriers. While the proposed deal will bear some regulatory
scrutiny, business and tech execs need to be developing a strategy now for a
world where there are only three pipes to carry their company's mobile
rise of the mobile Internet has already touched off a scramble on the
application side and the smart device side of the equation, but aside from
persistent grumbles about monthly connection costs and dropped calls, there has
been too little thought about the carrier in the middle of the
equation. With the worlds of WiFi and wide-area networks constantly
evolving, and with the possible entrance of new wireless players (remember when
Google was thought ready to build out a wireless network?), if you are a
company business exec, CIO or technology exec, you are going to have to bet
your infrastructure on one of the big three in the near-term-like in the next
five years, at most.
what should you do? Start by thinking about more than simply monthly connection
costs and enterprise bundles you can buy. First, figuring out those
bundles would stress out IBM's Watson supercomputer. The bundles are
confusing because flat rates lead to price wars. Also, in the long run, arguing
bundle price is shortsighted when you would be far better off starting to look
at the infrastructure services the carriers are wrapping around their pipes.
right, I know they are not pipes, but even the carriers know they need to
capture all those cloud computing services that are so much in the news if they
want to start locking in businesses. Without that lock-in, the mobile Internet
would become a world of churn. If all those cloud vendors were tuned into what
was going on, the EMCs, Amazons, Microsofts and Googles of the world would
start to realize their biggest competitors will be the carriers rather than the
old vendors putting on a new cloud outfit.
carriers would like to become security, application, 24/7, always-on cloud
infrastructure providers. They have a long way to go. However, it is not
too early for potential customers to start sorting out the offerings from the
soon-to-be Big Three. Can you start to move those really onerous tasks-let's
start with security and patching-to the carrier? What about your plans to use a
host for standard and new business applications? The carrier should be part of
consumers, the proposed acquisition is a whole different matter. Consumers
judge carriers by call quality, dropped calls and speed-wait, come to think of
it, those things are important in the business world also. AT&T-often
portrayed as the Rodney Dangerfield of telecom-has a lot to gain by the
acquisition. Both AT&T
operate on GSM and would get additional capability and
spectrum without the big capital investment. Those capital dollars could be
aimed at a faster 4G rollout.
bigger risk is that the Big Three could quickly become the Big Two, as Sprint,
with only 50 million subscribers as compared to the AT&T and Verizon
combination of 230 million subscribers, is eclipsed. The Big Two could offer
coverage and smartphone deals that Sprint would have a tough time to match.
not all that long ago, there was one big phone company known as Ma Bell
(AT&T), which was expected to be erased as phone competition was opened up
and cellular technology left the wired providers tied to homes and
payphones. Surprise, surprise, that didn't happen, and this return of Ma
Bell is well worth understanding for the business-to-business community.