Vodafone, former stakeholder in the Verizon Wireless venture with Verizon Communications has announced that it will launch an MVNO through T-Mobile USA that will focus on corporate and enterprise customers that are already using Vodafone communications services in North America, with a particular focus on multinational clients that have a sizable US presence. While this may be a case of strange bedfellows due to the competitive rivalry between Vodafone and parent Deutsche Telekom outside of North America, everything points to T-Mobile’s lower costs for network access that may have convinced Vodafone to re-enter the US market under this particular arrangement.
As mentioned earlier, Vodafone previously held a sizable stake in Verizon Wireless from 2000 to January of this year with Verizon Communications. The deal was structured in such a way that Vodafone padded its profits with the revenue from the venture and Vodafone was never a real factor in the US outside of its investment since no mention was ever made of the arrangement in any marketing, aside from former sponsorship of the McLaren Formula 1 team that saw the drivers and cars carry Verizon branding for the US Grand Prix in Austin. The majority of Vodafone customers also couldn’t roam in the US due to Verizon being a CDMA carrier and Vodafone being one of the largest GSM carriers in the world unless they purchased an expensive dual-mode phone or purchased additional US roaming services.
With this arrangement, Vodafone is signaling that the US market is still important to the company, but it may also be testing the waters for an eventual move back into the consumer market, either as a possible buyer for T-Mobile US or expanding its enterprise MVNO into the consumer market in the future. For now, this future arrangement bodes especially well for T-Mobile, as it has historically struggled to acquire more lucrative enterprise and corporate customers against AT&T and Verizon and the arrangement also reduces acquisition costs for such customers even further.