Categories: Carriers

Carrier Wrap: Vodafone, Rogers partner; AT&T sets end date for CDMA

Editor’s Note: Wireless operators are a busy bunch, and as such RCR Wireless News will attempt to gather some of the important announcements that may slip through the cracks from the world’s largest carriers in a weekly wrap-up. Enjoy!

–International telecommunications giant Vodafone Group announced a “partner market” agreement with Canadian telecom provider Rogers Communications.

The partnership calls for Rogers to become Vodafone’s “exclusive partner in Canada,” with the two companies agreeing to “explore new business opportunities as well as offer customers a range of products and services, including 4G roaming services.”

In return, Rogers said it will gain Vodafone’s insight into rolling out “4G mobile broadband networks, working with leading global equipment providers.”

“We are delighted that Rogers has joined our successful Partner Markets community,” explained Vodafone Group Chief Executive Vittorio Colao, in a statement. “Canada is an important market as we continuously expand our roaming capabilities across North America.”

Rogers CEO Guy Laurence added: “We’re focused on significantly improving our customers’ experience and believe that the knowledge and resources we will get from this alliance will be a big benefit to our customers. We will draw on expertise and best practices from operators around the world to improve the products and services, like roaming and unified voice solutions, that we offer our consumer and business customers.”

Vodafone counts more than 434 million wireless customers through its directly controlled operations across 27 countries and partnerships in an additional 49 countries. The company said its partner market group has agreements with more than 30 telecommunication companies in nearly 50 countries.

Vodafone earlier this year sold its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications for $130 billion, ending its partnership with the United States largest wireless operator.

Rogers, which is Canada’s largest wireless operator with approximately 9.5 million customers, recently paid out nearly $3 billion in that country’s 700 MHz spectrum auction, picking up 22 A-, B- and C-Block spectrum licenses covering nearly 33.4 million potential customers. Rogers picked up two licenses across most regions, giving it access to 24 megahertz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band. License rules require companies that control two or more blocks of paired spectrum in the 700 MHz band to cover 90% of the country’s population with their “current high-speed coverage” within five years and 97% within seven years of being granted the licenses.

Rogers’ largest rivals, Telus Mobility and Bell Canada, operate through a network sharing arrangement with Telus Mobility focused on network operations across Western Canada and Bell Canada responsible for network operations in Eastern Canada.

AT&T looks set to end Leap Wireless’ CDMA network support as soon as next March, according to a statement on the new Cricket’s website. Cricket is the branded service offerings AT&T has kept as part of the recently closed Leap transaction.

On a webpage dedicated to updating Cricket’s support of the government subsidized Lifeline program, the carrier states “Cricket is upgrading its CDMA network to 4G GSM and expects to stop offering CDMA wireless service as early as March 2015.” AT&T is looking to free up Leap’s spectrum and network assets to support its continued rollout of LTE services.

AT&T is in the process of trying to migrate Leap’s approximately 4.5 million customers, which the carrier said could take up to 18 months. As part of gaining approval for the deal, AT&T said it will offer “certain rate plans” targeting “value-conscious” and government-subsidized Lifeline customers; and a device trade-in program for current Leap customers with CDMA phones to upgrade to devices compatible with AT&T Mobility’s network. AT&T also said it will continue to honor Leap’s CDMA roaming agreements for as long as it operates the CDMA network.

AT&T last month combined its no-contract Aio Wireless brand into the Cricket offering in an attempt to consolidate its efforts in the increasingly competitive segment.

T-Mobile US’ MetroPCS brand has recently deployed Amdocs’ Enterprise Payment Pricessing solution as part of a multi-year agreement.

Amdocs said the platform is designed to provide MetroPCS customers with electronic payment options across various channels including interactive voice response, web portal, SMS or through an agent in the contact center. The platform runs across a private cloud from an Amdocs managed services data center, which Amdocs said links with “multiple banks and other financial institutions.”

T-Mobile US earlier this week signed a new business and operational support services business contract with Ericsson that includes all branded T-Mobile US and MetroPCS customers. The platform reportedly provides customers will gain real-time billing visibility and full control over account service changes.

Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US this week named new distribution channels.

Verizon Wireless tapped recently formed Ice Mobility as an authorized distributor, handling agent channels out of two distribution centers in Los Angeles and Vernon Hills, Ill. The deal allows agents and retailers to purchase Verizon Wireless certified handsets and other devices from Ice. Ice is headed by former Celluphone CEO Mike Mohr and former Brightstar US CEO Denise Gibson. Sprint parent company Softbank last year purchased a controlling stake in Brightstar.

T-Mobile US named CPD Mobile as a master dealer for its recently announced Univision Mobile product. The Univision Mobile mobile virtual network operator partnership launched May 19, and includes content from media giant Univision running across T-Mobile US’ network.

Additional carrier news can be found on the RCR Wireless News “Carriers” page.

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