T-Mobile Targets Small Businesses With New Business Connect SaaS Phone Service, Partnering With Stealth ChooChee

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T-Mobile, fresh from the completion of its merger with MetroPCS and new NYSE listing, is now sharpening its focus on new customers and new products, beginning with small businesses and cloud-based, software-as-a-service phone deals. We’ve been passed a letter that T-Mobile is sending out to a selection of small companies (copied below), targeting those with 20 or fewer employees and offering them free business phone service for the remainder of 2013, with half price on phone services in 2014. The plan, called Business Connect, also has a dedicated website.

This looks to be a direct competitor to other hosted services like those offered by 8×8 and RingCentral, which effectively offer small businesses a cloud-based solution that gives them telephony features like voicemail, CallerID, conference bridges and other features that have been hallmarks of services for larger companies.

From what we understand, this is being developed in conjunction with ChooChee, whose site, if you visit it, still indicates it is in stealth mode but also notes that it is working “in close partnership with one of the world’s largest global telephony providers”. Our source tells us that ChooChee has in fact been quietly acquired by T-Mobile. (We have reached out to the company to confirm this, plus the news about Business Connect. In any case, someone last year created a profile on CrunchBase called Deutsche Telekom/ChooChee, which points to them at least working together.)

From what we understand, what’s going out to select users today is an early beta, and that there will be a soft launch later this year, with a bigger launch later in the year. This could be part of a bigger strategy targeting SMBs: just last week (prior to the MetroPCS announcement) T-Mobile also announced a new plan for small businesses called “Simple Choice.” This is effectively the business equivalent of the “un-carrier” deals that T-Mobile has been selling to consumers. In this case it’s low-cost mobile plans for unlimited talk, text and mobile web access without an annual contract, along with offers for smartphones at discounted prices. On top of that, T-Mobile is also selling additional services like IT support and billing automation in a new “Business Extras” plan.

The Business Connect service, however, appears to be separate from this and aimed at a converged fixed/mobile phone service.

T-Mobile, even with the added heft of MetroPCS, is still the U.S.’s smallest mobile carrier, with 43 million subscribers, compared to Verizon at 109.8 million subscribers, AT&T at 103.9 million subscribers and Sprint at 55.8 million subscribers.

T-Mobile has been slowly turning things around. In its last quarterly earnings, it reported its first customer growth since 2009, with numbers up 0.6%, and now it’s finally carrying the iPhone on its network, as well as building out its LTE network. Services like this show that it’s also looking to try to grow by being innovative and shifting the playing field — it looks like this might be the first SaaS telephony offering of this kind from one of the major U.S. carriers.

Text of the email sent out to businesses below:

T-Mobile Business Connect

************************************************

SAY ‘CHEERS’ TO A BUSINESS PHONE SYSTEM
YOU WON’T REGRET IN THE MORNING

************************************************

[xxx],

Why do phone companies still make business phone
systems so complex?

************************************************

Good question. We’ve selected your company to be one of the first
to get a new business phone system built for a world that expects
even powerful technology to be easy to use. And you can try this
new system without paying one penny.

http://www.tmobilebiz.com

************************************************

That’s right, you’ll pay nothing for a brand-new phone system,
including service through 2013.

************************************************

T-Mobile Business Connect is what a phone system should be,
and it’s ready for your landlines, mobile phones, tablets,
computers and just about anything else. No special equipment
needed. No gotchas, no surprises, no kidding.

************************************************

We’re only offering this unique program to 200 specially
selected businesses, so grab your spot now.

***********************************************

– The T-Mobile Business Connect Team

***********************************************

GET A COMPLETE PHONE SYSTEM, ON US.

Space is limited. Claim your spot today and get complimentary
business phone service for the rest of 2013, 50% off for all
of 2014 and a desk phone, on us.

GET STARTED >>
http://www.tmobilebiz.com

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