Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Largest Price War in U.S. Mobile History is Coming

The biggest price war in the history of the U.S. mobile business is coming. We don't know precisely when it will begin, but it is coming.

The skirmishes already have begun as T-Mobile US has launched its "uncarrier" strategy. So far, the biggest impact has been on device purchase options, as T-Mobile US device installment policies have triggered competitive responses by AT&T and Verizon Wireless. 

That is probably marginally important to some consumers, namely those who routinely buy new devices frequently. But most users arguably have been more affected by shared data plans that are relatively incremental in impact.

SoftBank's Sprint probably has plans to do something more disruptive, and the other service providers will have to respond, in some way. 

Softbank launched just such a disruptive attack on pricing in the Japanese market after acquiring Vodafone's Japan business. 

Some would argue that Vodafone's willingness to sell its stake in its biggest market is evidence that it expects tougher and more competitive times in the U.S. market. That could be a problem for Verizon Communications, which is shelling out $130 billion to acquire the Vodafone stake in Verizon Wireless. 

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