2016 A Pivotal Year for Sprint, "Stress Test" for T-Mobile
It's Time for a Prototype 'Smart City'
Test of T-Mobile CellSpot

December 3, 2015
Dear Lens Subscribers,
We are in the midst of the most aggressive fourth quarter/holiday season customer grab that I can remember. The price delta between Sprint/TMO and VZ/AT&T is now pretty meaningful. So what happens when the dust settles? I think 2016 is shaping up as a pivotal year for Sprint, and as a stress test for T-Mobile. And, I predict that 12-18 months from now, the industry's structure will be quite different. Read the full column.

Also in this issue: my column suggesting that it's time to create a prototype "smart city". And a guest columnist tests the new T-Mobile CellSpot. Read more.

Finally, I will be at speaking at CES in January and have some slots for meetings in between briefings and time set aside to tour the show floor(s). Email me here if you'd like to connect at CES.  
2016: Pivotal Year for Sprint, Stress Test for T-Mobile

Read my latest Fierce Wireless column, in which I describe what 2016 might look like for the wireless operators and potential changes in industry structure.

Smart Cities: Time for the Live Demo

One of the most promising yet amorphous segments of the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) field is the so-called "smart city". To date, actual implementations of smart city concepts have been more along the lines of individual projects. The time might be right, however, to take the smart city concept to the next level: an actual, working, and continually evolving smart city, where all the disparate, siloed elements of today's smart city initiatives are brought together into a more holistic approach.

Test of T-Mobile CellSpot

Guest Columnist, Jon Frankel

[Editor's Note: A local friend and colleague had poor T-Mobile coverage in his home, so I suggested he try the CellSpot. Here's his experience.]

When I finally agreed to get my two middle school daughters smartphones (they were after all "the ONLY middle schoolers who did not have them"), I decided to switch over to T-Mobile in order to lower my bill.  I was cautioned that service could be spotty, especially in non-urban areas, but the total bill would stay well below $200.  Coverage around my home and business was good - until I went into my house,  which caused my phone to go from four bars down to one, or less.  Calls would drop, messages wouldn't be sent and my phone's battery would no longer last all day. So last month, when T-Mobile announced free CellSpots for their customers, I signed up.  Although I ran into two technical issues, I now have 5 bars of 4G coverage throughout my house, and SpeedTests (see screen captures) showed data download improvements from 1Mbps to 22Mbps (even faster than our home WiFi).  While the CellSpot has status indicator lights showing 4G service, the phone does not indicate that it is using the CellSpot. The CellSpot was classic "customer first".  I walked into the store, I didn't have to give them an argument, or pay a lot of money and they gave me the CellSpot.

Setup was fairly simple - a power cord, an (included) Ethernet cable which plugged into my router, and a GPS antenna.   However, it did take a few days and two phone calls to get the unit actually working and out of the "flashing green - initializing" state.  I had to configure the router to open two UDP ports (which T-Mobile tech support could not walk me through, and advised me to call my Internet Service Provider; I opted to figure out how to do this myself). I also had to locate the CellSpot in a different location than my modem/router.  For some still unexplained reason, when the CellSpot is next to the router, the WiFi signal does not carry beyond ten feet or so. Fortunately, I already had an Ethernet port setup in another room, so by moving the CellSpot, I was able to get both WiFi and 4G coverage throughout my house. With a little more experience, I am sure that T-Mobile will be solving problems like this for their customers.  
The overall results can be seen in the 'before' and 'after' screen shots. In addition to now having good enough coverage for voice calls, the data speeds are remarkably better.  
In addition to the improved coverage, T-Mobile has won me over in other ways --- especially cheap calls to Canada, included Voice/Text/Data roaming in Canada, lack of overage charges, corporate discount applying to all my phone lines (not just the primary line as AT&T did), cheaper activation fees, and the ability to add up to 15 lines to my plan (only 5 were allowed on AT&T).   
Upcoming Events

International CES. Las Vegas, January 6-9.

Mark will be speaking on the panel  Mobile and its Adjacent Categories

Contact Mark to schedule a meeting at CES.
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