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Wait. Carrier-based MaaS is a thing?

Sprint is the first carrier to offer MaaS. Will it work?

 

The enterprise space is becoming increasingly competitive for mobile operators as the need for wireless services increases. Sprint has developed a MaaS solution. With this Mobility as a Service (MaaS), Sprint provides the company with Sprint Owned & Maintained devices for the company’s employees. Sprint then offers the company packages of either premium resolution unlimited data, pooled data, or mobile optimized unlimited data plans. Businesses with at least 15 lines of service are eligible to share a pool of data ranging from 100 megabytes up to unlimited for smartphones and “premium devices.” The enterprise pays a per-month fee for the device similar to Sprint’s current consumer rate plans, including smartphones, tablets, and mobile hotspots. Each device includes the MaaS Extended Warranty Program and can be upgraded at 12 or 24 months depending on the service term. In addition to the device and service pricing, Sprint is offering reports that allow enterprises to monitor data usage; a dedicated “white-glove technical support” program; assistance in configuring and preloading business applications; and on-site implementation support for enterprises with orders of at least 25 devices. Sprint said it plans to add cloud storage and antivirus capabilities in the future. Sounds great! What’s the catch?

 

Consider this: Sprint has no choice but to find a way to stay in competition with its larger rivals or languish in obscurity, and this is the way they’ve decided to stay in the proverbial game. Servicing an entire company over an individual consumer is a more consistent flow of revenue for a wireless carrier. With that in mind, Sprint is attempting to ensure that a larger percentage of their business stop switching to other carriers. Sprint’s attempt to provide an entire suite of mobility solutions to their corporate wireless clients is a method of presenting themselves as highly integrated into corporate IT workflows. The strategy behind this is to tackle an already increasing problem for Sprint: customer churn. The CFO of Sprint noted that “the rise in competitive intensity has probably triggered a little bit more churn than we thought,” in a Fortune article. “We see churn to be relatively stable for the quarter. We had foreshadowed before that churn would be coming down over the quarter.” In truth, Sprint is hemorrhaging customers. Now they hope to reduce churn by focusing on their corporate clients. This is an attempt to stop enterprises from switching carriers by becoming a one-stop shop for their enterprise mobility management needs. MaaS requires a tremendous amount of infrastructure. Each enterprise has specific mobility needs- one wonders if their “one-size fits all” approach will work at all. The question remains: with such a drastic change in tactics can Sprint handle the challenges of providing MaaS and also prioritize the client’s interests and needs over their own?

 

Will other carriers follow suit? As of right now, it is difficult to say. Certain carriers are addressing customer drop-off by implementing unlimited data plans like Verizon. However, T-Mobile US earlier this year dedicated its “Un-carrier 9.0” initiative to the enterprise, offering up discounts on each line of service and larger data buckets. Looking to counter pooled data accounts offered by rivals, T-Mobile US is offering high-speed data packages beginning at $4.75 per GB for a total pool between 100 GB and 500 GB; $4.50 per GB for a total pool between 500GB and 1 terabyte; and $4.25 per GB for a data pool of at least 1 TB. T-Mobile notes that its shared data plans do not charge for overage, as data speeds are instead throttled down to 2G speeds once a data bucket is consumed. It is still too early to tell whether this trend will continue. However, if there is any success with Sprint’s MaaS, one can assume that the other major carriers will follow suit.

 

While carriers offering MaaS holds a promise of garnering savings and simplifying end-user mobility, it is difficult to ascertain whether their MaaS will actually deliver on all of its promises. It is important to keep in mind that their business model is not predicated on their client’s mobile cost reduction. The main product that carriers like Sprint are selling is their network- that will always be their main focus. Carrier-based MaaS is a window dressing devised to maintain and potentially grow their corporate client base. When considering a MaaS solution, the best thing to determine which one adds value to your company’s missions and goals beyond making the cost of mobility cheaper and easier.