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And Just Like That……. 2022 is coming to a close. First and Foremost, Happy and Healthy Holidays to all of our clients, customers, suppliers, and friends. Atrium Unlimited Consulting (www.atriumunlimited.com) would not be here without your tremendous support. From everyone at Atrium, THANK YOU for a Great 2022!
2022 was an incredible year for wireless and mobile accomplishments but as they say, “the best is yet to come!” We are all fascinated by the promises of 5G and IoT and how our lives will supposedly change (for the better) once we reach a critical mass. We are also surprised (or maybe not) of T-Mobile dethroning long-time network leader Verizon in a whole bunch of categories based on numerous customer satisfaction surveys. It is no surprise that the cable companies continue to gain subscribers and market share at the expense of the Big Three carriers, and many smaller cable operators are jumping into the MVNO pool.
All in all, 2022 was a solid growth year for wireless, and to stay true to form as the Oscars and Golden Globes awards are announced, Atrium Unlimited is happy to announce the first-ever Jonny Awards! Named for yours truly, and based on very unscientific research, the Jonny Awards are meant solely to have some fun and are the creation of this author. You’ll notice that I didn’t say the first annual awards as I don’t know if we’ll ever repeat this.
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AND THE WINNERS ARE:
The only qualification to be included in these awards was to do something newsworthy in 2022 that affected or will affect, the MVNO landscape. So with that, here goes. And remember, if you feel you were slighted, work harder in 2023, call me for advice and recognize that all awards are given with our best intentions.
Most Anticipated MVNO - MobileX
Peter Adderton is no stranger to the MVNO space with Boost, Amp’d, and now MobileX under his belt. When Peter isn’t firing off tweets about T-Mobile and Verizon (somehow he has spared AT&T), his vision and concept for right-sizing your bill is revolutionary and the outlook for MobileX is very positive. Now in a Beta test, we are anxiously awaiting the commercial launch to see if the offering actually delivers as promised. My bet is a resounding YES!
Rookie Of The Year - Gigs
A lot of new MVNOs hit the market in 2022 (and a few closed as well) but no one came out of the blocks like Berlin-based GIGs with APIs to give an MVNO as close to an immediate start-up as possible. Hermann and Dennis just might have caught lightning in a bottle and it will be interesting to see if they can get some minor kinks out before they start to scale their business.
Most Valuable Player Of The Year - Consumer Cellular
After getting sold for $2.3 BILLION in 2020, Consumer Cellular only got better with new rate plans, more data packages for their “older” audience, and hiring Ted Danson as their national spokesperson. Consumer Cellular started in 1995 as a company that offered competitive rate plans to those over 55 years of age and that didn’t need big buckets of data. Twenty-seven (27) years later, those customers are now in their 80’s and hopefully using more data. Consumer Cellular is attracting a new generation of subscribers, and even opening up retail stores in places like The Villages in Florida. Ed Evans and his team at GTCR, the private equity firm that bought Consumer Cellular, saw a good thing and are making it great!
Best New Product of the Year - Spectrum One
With Big Cable taking a bigger bite out of the wireless market share, Spectrum Mobile (Charter Communications) shows no sign of slowing down and launched Spectrum One last month. New customers can sign up for Spectrum One for $49.99/month. The price includes Spectrum Internet, Advanced WiFi, and one free line of Unlimited Spectrum Mobile for a year – with no contracts and no added taxes or fees. I’m not one to read the fine print so I don’t know what happens after Year One but I do know that the folks in Stamford, CT will continue to push the status quo of wireless offerings and continue their incredible growth story!
Biggest Faux Pas of the Year - Wireless Advocates
It’s not nice to hit someone when they’re down and it’s never a good idea to ridicule a company that laid off 1800 employees with no notice three weeks before Christmas. Faux Pas is “an embarrassing or tactless act.” I personally worked side by side with many of these people when I was employed in national retail at Sprint (pre-merger). I do think that this could have been handled a lot better but hats off and CHEERS to all of the companies that reached out to these employees with job offers and opportunities.
Best Wireless Association of the Year - NWIDA
The National Wireless Independent Dealer Association showed its true colors as an advocate for the “little guy” throughout the year with their fight for Right to Repair, setting up a repository for displaced employees (see above) and getting the most out of their vendor partners to support the independent dealers with deep discounts on everything needed to run a store. Adam Wolf continues to grow NWIDA and will continue to be the voice for the independent dealer.
Best Dealer and MVNO Trade Show - All Wireless and Prepaid Expo
I remember in 2008 the first “Prepaid Show” was held in about one-quarter of a ballroom and it took 20 minutes to visit every booth. In 2022, The All Wireless and Prepaid Expo featured over 3,000 attendees with over 200 booths, and it literally took over Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Robin Tobias and her team have made their event the “must-go-to” trade show in the wireless space and it will only continue to get bigger and better. Remember CTIA? Neither do I.
Best Advertising - Mint Mobile With Ryan Reynolds
In 2019, the actor Ryan Reynolds became a 20-25% (reportedly) owner of Mint Mobile and of course put himself into the ads. What other owners appeared in their company’s advertising; Lee Iacocca at Chrysler (dating myself)? Victor Kaim (Remington shavers—REALLY dating myself!)) Dave Thomas from Wendy’s, Frank Perdue? Orville Redenbacher (popcorn) Dan Hesse from Sprint? But Ryan’s commercials resonate with a whole new generation of wireless subscribers who enjoy low rates, good buckets of data, and a great network (T-Mobile). So what if you have to pay 3, 6 or 12 months upfront to save money on your service? Mr. Reynolds is a likable, believable spokesperson who went from being a Mint Mobile user to a part owner of the company, literally putting his money where his mouth is. I remember one of Mint’s first commercials with the moldy milk being poured; Ryan Reynolds is a huge improvement.
Will They or Won’t They Award - DISH
I include DISH Networks because they own one of the most visible MVNOs, Boost Mobile. While Boost has had its share of growth and churn problems, speaking with Steve Stolkos over the past year tells me that hopefully the worst is behind them and Boost can get its mojo back. Can Boost Infinite save the day? A lot of that will depend on parent DISH actually building out a network as they’ve been promising to do for years and was part of the stipulation when they purchased Boost from Sprint/T-Mobile. DISH did fire up a whole bunch of cities to meet the FCC mandated coverage requirements and are currently compliant. Let’s hope that they will use their vast spectrum holdings and create a viable fourth national network and keep the competition going.
MVNO(s) of the Year - Charter & Comcast
Without a doubt, and something that I and others have written about, the incredible success of cable giants Charter and Comcast gives them our MVNO of the Year Award. Launching in 2017 and 2018, they each have approached almost 5 million subscribers through a simple solution, market a new service to your current customers. Yes, they are both backed by large companies with huge marketing budgets but by offering great rates, a “by the GIG” plan, BYOD to reduce internal handset supply issues, and strong Wi-Fi networks to offload data usage that reduces their costs to their provider Verizon.
I don’t see any slowdown for either company and their Spectrum and Xfinity brands will continue to cement themselves as major players in the MVNO space. Congrats to Danny and Kohposh for their vision, leadership, and execution.
So, that wrap’s up 2022 for me. If you care to comment on any of our picks or want to suggest other categories, find me at www.atriumunlimited.com and fill out our Contact Form. I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did putting it together.
We will also be adding a page to our website mentioning all of our current clients. If you’d like to talk about any consulting needs, you now know how to reach us.
Again, here’s wishing everyone a very Safe, Happy, and Healthy Holiday Season. Hope to see a lot of you at CES in Las Vegas and I look forward to supporting our industry in 2023!
Cheers and Good Selling!