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IDG Contributor Network: 2018 CCA Mobile Carriers Show helps smaller wireless carriers compete

How do smaller wireless carriers compete and win against the powerhouses of the industry like AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint. Smaller competitors like US Cellular, Xfinity Mobile, C Spire Wireless and many others face the same challenges, plus one more. Not only must they compete in a rapidly changing industry against the big four, but they are smaller and must also offer the user a compelling reason to choose them.

The CCA is the association that tries to help them do just that. At this year’s annual convention in Las Vegas at the end of March, the Mobile Carriers Show is getting ready to help the small and mid-size wireless marketplace. That means networks, carriers, MVNO, handset makers, apps and more. Many of the same players are at this smaller carrier show that are at the larger shows like CTIA and Mobile World Congress.

How smaller wireless carriers successfully compete

To differentiate themselves, some carriers focus on reduced price. Others focus on better quality customer service. Still focus on new services like blending television with wireless.

The first step is for every player, large or small to remain competitive. They must as least have all the bells and whistles their competitors are offering.

The second step is the differentiator. What makes them different and gives the customer a reason to choose them? Each must find that something else. Something special. Something only, they have.

The customer marketplace is huge and that means there is more than one type of customer. That means if every competitor has a different advantage, they can all be successful. Unfortunately, most don’t seem to understand this, and all try for the wider pot of customers.

Smaller wireless carriers: US Cellular, C Spire Wireless and more

On one side are consumers who are advanced or heavy duty wireless users of voice, wireless data and more. On the other end of the spectrum are consumers who use wireless very sparingly, either because they don’t want to overspend, or they are just not interested in all the bells and whistles.

Business users are another opportunity. Some business customers are individuals or small businesses. Others are larger companies with large numbers of handsets to manage, along with all the wireless data and apps their people regularly use.

Depending on the customer, the smaller wireless carriers have a solid chance to land new business and keep with lower prices, better customer care and more. However, they must come up with an advantage. Something they can capture a slice of the pie with.

Companies like US Cellular, which is a national provider, but much smaller than the big competitors. C-Spire Wireless is another, which focuses on a smaller region, in this case the state of Mississippi with a solid relationship with its users.

New wireless players: Xfinity Mobile, Charter Spectrum, Google Project Fi

The MVNO community also fits into this slice of the pie and there are plenty of competitors. Companies like Comcast Xfinity Mobile and Charter Spectrum when they launch later this year.

There are also plenty of other MVNO providers like Google Project Fi, Consumer Cellular, Cricket Wireless, Boost Mobile, MetroPCS, Virgin Mobile, Tracfone, Net10 Wireless, Straight Talk, Total Wireless and more.

I expect the list of wireless competitors to continue to grow as the industry continues to do the same. Wireless have grown and evolved into a much different place over the last decade.

The Apple iPhone and Google Android entered the scene eleven years ago and changed everything. They sent this entire industry on a wild growth track that has changed and continues today. They sent previous leaders like Blackberry and Nokia to the back of the pack, like they did with Motorola a decade earlier.

Wireless industry is rapidly changing

This is a take no prisoners war for market share and in order to be one of the winners, you need to not only be ready, but you must pounce on the growth opportunities that you have.

Any company can see rapid growth and strengthen their competitive position. Consider what T-Mobile USA has done over the last five years. T-Mobile was crashing and burning, year after year. They missed the shift from 2G to 3G. They were failing, and they didn’t know why.

Step in John Legere as new CEO of T-Mobile. He was just what T-Mobile needed. The right person at the right time. His arrogant attitude punched T-Mobile back onto the competitive map. When he started, it was all talk, but over time he both invested in the network and improved the marketing and brand strategy for the company.

Recovery differences between T-Mobile and Sprint

Today, T-Mobile is a rapidly growing competitor and has moved from fourth to third, passing Sprint and behind only Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility.

Legere made it look easy. However, looking at Sprint who was also struggling the same as T-Mobile, obviously it’s not easy. Sprint tried to do the same thing, and did show growth over the last couple years, but that growth is simply not at the same level as that of T-Mobile.

Sprint can recover the same as T-Mobile, but they have not found the magic formula yet. This is the job of the CEO to set strategy. Both T-Mobile and Sprint had many years of struggle under many different CEO’s. After a while it just becomes who they are.

The wireless growth wave continues

It takes a bigger than life personality of a new CEO to shake things up. If the service was not good, then that would eventually fall flat. So, the company also needs to be at the forefront of industry trends. They need to be in a leadership position.

That’s what every smaller player at the Mobile Carriers Show is looking for. They are looking for their niche. Something that sets them apart. A horse they can ride to success.

Think of this like the Growth Wave, which I often talk about. The Wave is always moving. You either stay with the growth wave like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Apple iPhone, Google Android and Samsung Galaxy, or you let it pass you by like Motorola, Nokia and Blackberry. If that happens, suddenly you find yourselves just floating in the calm sea as the growth wave moves ahead without you.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

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