Wireless carrier T-Mobile, which has lagged behind in the business market, is setting its sights on small-business accounts by adopting its "un-carrier" initiative in that sector. On Wednesday, T-Mobile unveiled the new plans to help boost its standing in the business market.
It aims to do that by offering a flexible rate plan for businesses that starts at 10 lines for $160. Each additional line -- up to 20 -- costs $16, and the price drops to $15 per line from there up to 1,000 lines. Companies that require even more pay $10 per line.
T-Mobile’s consumer-oriented "un-carrier" plans that eliminate contracts and early termination fees, have paid off as T-Mobile has gone from 33 million to 55 million customers in the past two years. Now, the company is looking to do the same with small-business customers.
According to the new plan, each line comes with unlimited talk, text and up to 1 GB of data high-speed 4G LTE data. An extra 2 GB of high-speed data costs $10 per line, while unlimited high-speed data is $30 per line. T-Mobile is also offering pooled high-speed data options starting at $475 per month for 100 GB.
Businesses that sign up for at least one line with additional paid data also get free dot-com domains and Web sites from GoDaddy, along with free custom e-mail addresses powered by Microsoft Office 365. That offer includes one free business e-mail address for every T-Mobile business line with additional paid data.
At the same time, T-Mobile is discounting prices for people who combine their personal plans with business plans paid for by their companies, based on the fact that 72 percent of customers use the same carriers for their personal use as they do for work. T-Mobile says that offer can save customers up to 50 percent.
We reached out to Roger Entner, founder and lead analyst at Recon Analytics, who told us that T-Mobile was playing it smart by trying to replicate its success in the consumer market.
"They’re providing significantly lower priced solutions to connectivity for small businesses," Entner said. "The discounts are substantial even for businesses that have to add in the cost of new devices."
In recent years, the business market hasn’t been strong for T-Mobile. It has only received between 3 percent and 5 percent of the $83 billion in wireless revenue that the major U.S. carriers have collectively received from business accounts. Verizon and AT&T account for a $72 billion piece of that pie, with Sprint getting $10 billion.
According to T-Mobile, 99.7 percent of U.S. businesses have fewer than 500 employees and therefore don't have the money or resources to negotiate and decipher the pricing of wireless carriers.
"It’s a win both ways for T-Mobile," said Entner. "They regain their footing in the small-business market, and they take away customers from their competitors."