T-Mobile Wins Number Portability Sweepstakes

Mobile Devices Editor Rob Enderle predicts T-Mobile will win the first round of cellular number portability -- but he still cautions against jumping in right away.

On November 24th the cell phone companies have been ordered by the US government to allow you to switch vendors but retain your phone number. This should make the migration from one carrier to another much less painful and less risky than it has historically been.

There is clearly pent up demand in people who are upset with their cell phone service provider. Ive spent the last week informally asking people if they were going to change wireless providers on or after the 24th and come to the conclusion that T-Mobile is likely to be the big winner in the small business segment. While the survey is anecdotal, my review of their plan shows they are addressing some key needs not yet addressed by the other vendors. T-Mobile may experience some initial loading problems, so you need to understand the why T-Mobile is so attractive and also when to time your movement so you arent part of the fist huge wave.

The biggest advantage T-Mobile has is how they deal with data networking. While most cell phone based wireless data services charge you by the amount of data you send and receive, T-Mobile is rolling out a $19.95 all you can eat data program. If you want WiFi, for access their 3300 locations it is another $19.95 so for about $40 you get unlimited data regardless of whether it is WiFi or cell phone based. One of the big negatives for firms thinking of allowing cellular data communications was the belief that employees would quickly run up huge cell phone bills by trying to do software updates, download personal email or images.

As a result, with few exceptions, companies have generally been staying away from allowing employees to use their business cell phone accounts for data. In addition, firms havent been rushing to allow the expensing of WiFi connectivity either, primarily because the cost of monitoring and administering yet another expense across all of their employees is something they try to avoid. T-Mobile has rolled with a plan to charge a flat $20 each for WiFi and WAN (cell phone) wireless data. Thats a flat $40 for both.

Next page: Rob Analyzes T-Mobiles Cost Benefits.