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FranFunnel Primer: Wireless Carriers

Over the course of the last two FranFunnel Bulletins we’ve published, you’ve undoubtedly seen the rife appearance of a term you’ve always known, but didn’t really care about in your professional life: wireless carriers.

As a consumer, you generally interact with a single one of them as you select for yourself, family, or company, which of them you’re going to become a customer of. Your phones tap into their network and that’s that.

However, as a professional set on using messaging as a key channel of communication, you don’t have the luxury of choosing a single one. You interact with all of them!

So rather than focus on which carrier is better for you (as great blogs like NerdWallet do), we thought we’d take a step back and look at what a wireless carrier is, who they are, what services they provide, and finally why all this is important.

(If you haven’t read part 1 on defining A2P10DLC, and part 2 on leveraging A2P10DLC, check those out for more context!)

What is a wireless carrier?

Well let’s start with a definition of wireless carrier from Technopedia:

An organization that provides wireless voice and data communication for its subscribed mobile users. They are independent communication service providers that own the complete telecom infrastructure for hosting and managing mobile communications between the subscribed mobile users with users in the same and external wireless and wired telecom networks.

These organizations are licensed by the government to own part of the radio spectrum and ultimately power devices to connect to both (a) cellular networks, and (b) data networks. Most of them don’t produce the hardware (phones, tablets, etc.) themselves, but rather focus on owning satellites, utility lines, and various other infrastructure to blanket the world in connectivity.

Who are the wireless carriers?

Each country has its own suite of wireless carriers that service their citizens. Some companies are multinational (most common in Europe), but you can look up your country’s companies fairly easily.

The U.S. until very recently had four major wireless carriers, however, after the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile US, we are down to the BIG 3: 

  1. AT&T
  2. Verizon
  3. T-Mobile US. 

Each of these networks has over 100 million subscribers. (To give you an idea, the next two companies in the rankings, Dish Wireless and U.S. Cellular, have about 9 and 5 million subscribers, respectively.)

These three companies compete against one another very, very intensely. All you need to do is look at basically any marketing channel to see how much these companies spend on attracting and retaining customers. The reality (and don’t tell them I said this) is that all three companies provide a very similar suite of services. 

So which company your family or your company decides to use doesn’t matter all that much.

Why are wireless carriers important in the world of FranFunnel?

As of a couple years ago, the answer was that they weren’t that important at all. Carries are utility companies. They’re the people who make sure that the expensive piece of technology you bought from Apple actually works. They’re the fuel that powers the car.

However, as we’ve started to document in our last post, this is all starting to change. Texting is slowly but surely starting to be invaded by what in the email world we call spammers. Originally the only companies who cared were the hardware providers like Apple and Samsung. They provide some texting inbox services that customers can use.

But now the wireless carriers have decided that curbing text garbage is on their plate as well. They are increasingly exerting their leverage on the texting world, all in service of making their wireless networks more valuable than other options.

Texts used to flow through their “tubes” mostly unfettered, but now they are being monitored, taxed, and even blocked.

I hate to say that I’m adding to your list of “things you need to pay attention to if you want to succeed in business,” but here in 2021 the wireless carriers are officially becoming a big deal.

Eli Robinson is the General Manager of FranFunnel. He hosts trivia, bakes bread, and enjoys betting on sports, often all at the same time.

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