While Verizon Business currently claims a leading 44 per cent market share across the enterprise and government sector, T-Mobile US executives have targeted a 20 per cent share by 2025 which means something has to give.

T-Mobile for Business upped the ante in May when it announced its 5G Advanced Network Solutions (ANS) mobile business services portfolio.

The operator has claimed to be moving away from the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to business and government services with three managed services: public; hybrid; and private mobile networks, with options to access T-Mobile compute services or employ their own provider.

Mishka Dehghan, SVP of strategy, product and solutions engineering at T-Mobile for Business, told Mobile World Live (MWL) the operator’s mostly mid-band 5G spectrum was a key differentiator, and the company is transitioning from being a provider of plans and devices to a full solutions provider.

She noted AT&T and Verizon Business have fixed line businesses they need to protect. “For them to play in this new world of mobile connectivity that’s really powering up these new use cases, they have to walk a very fine line between their existing legacy business and the mobile connectivity business.”

Dehghan stated some service providers typically used fibre for connectivity in manufacturing facilities, meaning robots and equipment were offline during installation.

“With 5G, they don’t have to rely on wired connectivity anymore,” she said, noting the technology “is so robust that it completely gives them a new approach to how they are thinking about deploying new solutions on their production lines”.

Verizon Business makes its case
Of course, AT&T and Verizon also have 5G-powered business services, including private networks.

Sowmyanarayan Sampath, who took over as CEO of Verizon Business on 1 July, touted his company’s spectrum, which includes CBRS, C-Band and mmWave options for private networks, as a key competitive advantage.

He told MWL that even if T-Mobile for Business hits its 20 per cent market share target, it would be half of Verizon’s current market share.

“We’re not going to stay stagnant,” he stated. “They’re a strong competitor, but there are three or four things on the enterprise side that are big winners for us”.

Sampath noted Verizon Business’ network was built for enterprises while its C-Band spectrum was providing additional traction.

He also cited Verizon Business’ distribution network, which took a decade to build and includes direct sellers, indirect channel and co-selling partners.

“It’s very difficult to replicate the depth and breadth of our market coverage on distribution.”

Jason Inskeep, assistant VP for 5G and Private 5G Centre of Excellence at AT&T, also cited his company’s experience serving business customers, along with its CBRS and C-Band spectrum.

“If we haven’t done it in enterprise space, we’ve probably done it on our network,” he said of finding the right solution for each enterprise customer.

While T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon have built their 5G networks on top of their 3G and 4G networks, nascent rival Dish Wireless is in the process of building an open RAN network.

Sampath does not see Dish Wireless as much of a threat so far, noting enterprises rely on operators’ networks for their most critical business needs. Given the newcomer currently covers around 20 per cent of the US, the Verizon executive does not believe it will attract large, national companies.

“It’s about coverage. It’s about reliability of service and it’s about the enterprise model so it’s going to be very tough for them to break into this space. But, look we have to keep impressing our customers every day”.

Dehghan noted the key vectors of performance for 5G business services are speed, latency and reliability, as enterprises move more of their applications and services to the cloud, mobile compute edge and private networks.

Crowded landscape
At an investor conference in May, T-Mobile CFO Peter Osvaldik claimed it holds a 15 per cent share of the enterprise and government sector, leaving him confident of hitting its long-term goal even though the sector is evolving.

The battle for business services goes beyond AT&T, Verizon Business and T-Mobile for Business: Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services are collectively putting their weight behind building wireless services at the edge, which includes partnerships with operators.

Inskeep noted operators were AT&T’s only competition five years ago, but private networks have created a new competitive landscape.

Going forward, keeping an eye on each operator’s capex and business services revenue will be key indicators of success.

In the meantime, with investors watching, operators will trumpet each of their respective wins across the enterprise and government sector.

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.