More than two dozen mobile operators and spectrum license holders have banded together to form NextGen Mobile L.L.C. The organization hopes to pool efforts to launch GSM-based, next-generation networks covering small and rural markets.
The organization said 28 companies have joined what grew out of a “year-long dialog between existing mobile operators and winners of advanced wireless services and 700 MHz licenses in recent FCC auctions. All members of NextGen Mobile operate, or anticipate operating, networks based on the GSM family of technologies, including UMTS and eventually LTE.”
“By pooling together our human resources to tackle such disparate issues as RF optimization, billing, customer care, roaming and network operations, we as a company can save a tremendous amount of capital that would have otherwise been earmarked for routine operational expenses by each stand-alone operator,” explained Craig Freeman, vice-chair and secretary of NextGen Mobile. “Now, with NextGen Mobile, we can defray those same operational costs across the entire group.”
NextGen Mobile’s Chairperson and CEO E. Kelly Bond said the company was “in the process of implementing working committees at this time and we will release our roster at a later date.”
Rural operators and consumer groups have railed against exclusivity agreements between nationwide operators and handset manufacturers that have shut out smaller players in providing highly desirable devices like Apple Inc.’s iPhone.
“A huge obstacle for any mobile operator who is not one of the ‘Big 5′ carriers is procurement of the latest, must-have handsets,” said Bob Martin, CFO and treasurer of NextGen Mobile. “By aggregating our orders, NextGen Mobile hopes to entice device manufacturers to develop and deliver the next ‘it’ handset or data card to those customers shut out in the past.”
Members of NextGen Mobile must feel left out of the numerous organization that currently serve similar purposes, including GSM-specific groups like 3G Americas and the GSM Association, as well as rural organizations like the Rural Cellular Association. There have also been short-lived efforts to organize rural operators around specific technologies.