Sprint Ad Proves “Increased Competition” a Fact of Life for Broadband Competitors

by Mike Wendy on September 15, 2011

Sprint ad shows increased competition in blurred line broadband market

Of late, I have been writing about how Sprint bemoans “increased competition” in the exceedingly competitive wireless space (at here and here).  But Sprint’s got a few tricks up its sleeve to keep its competitors hopping, as can be witnessed in a Wall Street Journal ad yesterday. In the ad, Sprint pushes an interesting promotional bundle: a Dell laptop with 3G / 4G broadband wireless services.

At $149, that looks pretty tempting.  Most assuredly, the promotion was designed to increase competition (certainly not to limit it) with the other national, regional and local brands.

Funny this, also.  You’ll note the promotion isn’t for a cell phone.  It’s a notebook, which can connect to the Internet wirelessly or through Ethernet, and which the ad proclaims is “powerful enough to be your office mainstay…”

Something that can be used on the go, or connected in the home or business.

To me, this demonstrates not only the competitive maelstrom currently occurring in the wireless market, but also the soon to be unleashed onslaught of new, competitive innovation generally, brought about by industry consolidation, such as through the AT&T / T-Mobile merger, among other things.

You think competitors will just paralyze, with prices increasing and services diminishing, when the merger goes through?  Think again.  The Sprint promotion already proves increased competition will continue and only get more interesting / attractive to consumers going forward.

Inevitable technological advances will juice up increased competition further, too.

Perhaps most importantly, the promo shows also that – as Sprint sees it – the market isn’t just for wireless broadband, but for broadband connectivity in its broadest sense.  This is something that Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle (who is hearing the DoJ’s suit to stop the AT&T / T-Mobile merger) might use to balance the DoJ’s recent shift toward a more narrow view of broadband competition – one which seems only focused on limited, wireless “national market” competition.

The promotion reveals the blurred line between mobile and connected broadband services.  Industry watcher, Geoffrey Manne, believes this phenomenon is no small distinction, especially as it pertains to the pending merger, noting:

…[T]he real competition here is not for mobile telephone service. The merger is about broadband. Mobile is one way of getting broadband. So is cable and DSL and WiMax, etc. That market includes such insignificant competitors as Time Warner, Comcast and Cox. Calling…[the AT&T / T-Mobile acquisition] a 4 to 3 merger strains credulity, particularly under the new merger guidelines. (Emphasis added)

Good stuff, Sprint.  Keep up with the increased competition riff you’ve got going on.  Others will surely follow.  They will have to.

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