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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

January 20, 2011 at 10:07 AM

T-Mobile to grow with $10 data plans, $100 smartphones, LTE next

Lots of news came out of an investor meeting T-Mobile had in New York today.

T-Mobile USA Chief Executive Philipp Humm said sales growth should resume this year, in part because of aggressive moves to court the 150 million Americans interested in upgrading to smartphones.

The strategy includes offering smartphones for under $100 and $10 data plans, according to Bloomberg’s account of the meeting. (The company now offers a 200 megabyte data plan as a $10 add-on to voice plans).

Humm didn’t announce plans to carry the iPhone. He did say about 10 percent of customers that leave the carrier are going to companies that carry Apple’s device; I wonder what’s drawing the other 90 percent.

Executives said the company has enough resources to develop a 4G LTE network, which may cost $1 billion to $2 billion and come online in a few years. It could raise capital by selling its cell towers, then renting back space on the towers that it needs, Reuters reported.

But it doesn’t have enough wireless spectrum for the LTE project. Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray told investors the company will need a partner by 2014 or 2015, Bloomberg reported.

Kirkland-based Clearwire is an obvious choice but it apparently wasn’t specified by Ray or Humm.

It sounds T-Mobile won’t be buying Clearwire outright, at least not for cash.

“We won’t be pursuing large-scale cash acquisitions,” Deutsche Telekom Chief Executive Rene Obermann said, according to Bloomberg.

Simultaneously, the company announced that it’s going to carry the Samsung Galaxy S Android smartphone later this year. It’s the first phone capable of the 21 megabits per second “theoretical peak download speeds” of the company’s current network. Pricing wasn’t disclosed, but it would be surprising if this one costs less than $100.

Comments | Topics: 4G, Clearwire, data plan

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