A lot of industry watchers look at T-Mobile in the USA as the fourth of the big four mobile operators. I'm not and never really have. They've been providing me one of my mobile phone services since 2001 but due to coverage issues, and just the need to be on various services, I've now got three USA service provider for voice and all four for various forms of wireless data, both 3G and WiFi.
Being on the road has really given me the insight about what their UMA play means. It really is subversive and it really, really works.
When I was at Mipcom in Cannes, France I jumped on the open WiFi access point that was there and made calls over my Blackberry 8320 as if I was in my house. Same number showed up, and I didn't have to use any special codes, or install any different software. For carriers not wanting to invest in the UMA infrastructure, or users not wanting to switch to a new device or a new carrier, I was able to do the same thing with my Nokia N95 and Truphone. That makes client Truphone the great equalizer for mobile operators thinking of how to counter T-Mobile's salvo in the USA.
1) It costs more to acquire a customer than to keep them. As a matter of fact once you have the customer if you do things right, they don't want to leave.
2) Truphone has built the call routes and network already. Think Dialpad and why Yahoo purchased them. The asset is there for others to leverage. No need to reinvent the wheel, and they have a carrier cooperative approach, not carrier hostile.
3) More and more WiFi is becoming unlocked. I'm noticing in my hotels this trip that more nights than in the past the access has been free. That means I can easily log on via Truphone and T-Mobile, so my phone bill back to the USA keeps dropping for minutes, and my pay as you go SIM's get used for posting photos to the blog.
So if the competition wants to keep up with T-Mobile's very smart move to offer UMA with VoIP over WiFi as a way to cut roaming costs, then all they need to know they need to look in the direction of Truphone.