T-Mobile USA has identified the small business space as a niche it can fill, recently announcing a partnership with Square and adjusting plans to suit just about any business regardless of size.
Matt Millen, vice president of T-Mobile’s small and medium business unit, says the carrier is bringing together a number of pieces – devices, plans, services – into a cohesive offering to attract smaller companies that might not know what they need or want in the way of mobile products.
Millen says that’s key to coming up with relevant plans for small business, which have historically purchased family plans because most carriers offer small business plans that start at a limit of five lines. Last March, T-Mobile began offering a $69.99 plan, with talk, text and data that starts at one line and scales up to 100 lines.
T-Mobile expanded on that with a pooling plan, which starts at two lines ($59.99 per month for two lines using 1,000 Whenever Minutes with a two-year agreement), followed by a value plan, which comes sans subsidy but starts at $49.99 for unlimited talk, text and data.
As far as devices are concerned, Millen says T-Mobile is seeing strong traction from Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone in the small business segment but confirms that a number of its customers have brought unlocked iPhones over the carrier’s network.
Millen says that Microsoft Windows Phone 7 devices could be a huge draw for small business for that platform’s tight compatibility with Microsoft’s desktop software, which many small businesses use to run their operations. “It certainly could be a game-changer for Microsoft,” Millen says.
But small business owners aren’t stopping with smartphones anymore. T-Mobile’s 42 Mbps HSPA+ network is fast enough that Millen says users are actually using it via a multi-user hotspot as the primary internet for small offices or teams of mobile workers in the field.
He says that workers are even delaying the upgrade of their desktop or laptop by going with a cheaper tablet and the faster network speeds associated with the company’s next-generation network.
T-Mobile last week also announced that it will be the first wireless carrier to offer the Square mobile payments reader as an accessory in select retail stores. As part of the partnership with Square, T-Mobile will be outfitting its sales associates with the readers.
Going forward, Millen is keeping his cards close to his vest but said that T-Mobile is looking at everything from a possible business-oriented cloud offering to devices that might differ from straight consumer offerings in the kinds of pre-loaded apps that are included on any given device. It’s all a part of crafting just the right options for the small business user.