This is the telco's first serious go at 5G connected laptops, an area it hopes will be profitable for it and its partners.

Moshe Beauford, Contributing Editor

March 12, 2024

3 Min Read
T-Mobile 5G connected laptop unveiled
T-Mobile for Business' Paul Spencer on stage at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Las Vegas, March 12, 2024.

CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO — T-Mobile for Business on Tuesday, in conjunction with the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, announced the launch of a 5G laptop to focus on the future of connectivity and security for the enterprise user. 

"We're looking to make it easier to do secure work from anywhere," said Paul Spencer, channel leader at T-Mobile for Business.

It will accomplish as much by deploying an eSIM, which it says partners Atos, Blue Mantis, MCPC, CompuCom, Pomeroy and others have already rolled out to their employees.

It will also bring Ericsson's entire IT workforce over to the virtual cellular network, deemed T-SIM Connect. 

With a record-setting year for partners under its belt, the telecommunications provider said it experienced sizable partner growth, paying out 35% more to partners in 2023. 

T-Mobile's total sales via the partner channel grew by some 20% while it experienced 400% year-over-year growth on the partner recruitment front.  

5G Connected Laptops: 'Carriers Have Never Gotten This Right'

Spencer believes if carriers had done things right historically, they would have a 50% market share in 5G connected laptops; instead, he notes, there is a 1% market share, something T-Mobile wants to alter. 

The T-Mobile channel leader said they got the idea for the solution from the channel, adding that there's a channel opportunity in the 5G connected laptop. 

Channel Futures TV: Channel Futures editorial director Craig Galbraith talks with T-Mobile's Paul Spencer at the 2024 Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

"You can sell it as a standalone service just like you would Palo Alto or anybody else," Spencer told Channel Futures. Creating a private APN (access point name) network of sorts, Spencer added this is yet another partner advantage of the tool. 

"The others might not like this necessarily, but you probably won't need a virtual private network (VPN) anymore, so it is a different bundled solution you can sell, with one less vendor to work with," Spencer contends. 

T-Mobile Eliminated Hard Wires for Tractor Supply

Spencer said retailer Tractor Supply previously depended on 166 internet service providers (ISPs) to run cable and fiber to their stores.

"We did some tests with them, then they moved to T-Mobile," Spencer told Channel Futures. 

Historically, T-Mobile has not emphasized 5G connected laptops, with Spencer acknowledging as much. He said what's different this time is that the telecommunications provider has set its sights on larger market shares, no longer targeting one-off deals with a consumer focus. 

Now he says, it's going after the enterprise customer based on partner feedback, which led to this solution. And it's looking to use it to disrupt the market. 

"If I am a partner, I can buy a device at the same price point no matter if it has Wi-Fi or uses a cellular chip," Spencer said, adding they are moving away from the concept of bill credits.

"The gross margin for the seller doesn't work the same," he told us.

With 22 million laptops sold annually in the United States alone, the business unit of T-Mobile is placing a considerable bet on 5G connected laptop "success," which is creating excitement among partners. 

Looking to let partners "run with the solution and sell as they sell," Spencer said T-Mobile is hopeful about the conceivable disruption it will create in the telecom arena. 

Set to roll out throughout the year, the T-Mobile exec shared that they will build solutions for each partner to ensure they are purpose-built, something that could conceivably take longer than the rest of 2024 to pull off.

About the Author(s)

Moshe Beauford

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Moshe has nearly a decade of expertise reporting on enterprise technology. Within that world, he covers breaking news, artificial intelligence, contact center, unified communications, collaboration, cloud adoption (digital transformation), user/customer experience, hardware/software, etc.

As a contributing editor at Channel Futures, Moshe covers unified communications/collaboration from a channel angle. He formerly served as senior editor at GetVoIP News and as a tech reporter at UC/CX Today.

Moshe also has contributed to Unleash, Workspace-Connect, Paste Magazine, Claims Magazine, Property Casualty 360, the Independent, Gizmodo UK, and ‘CBD Intel.’ In addition to reporting, he spends time DJing electronic music and playing the violin. He resides in Mexico.

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