NTT Docomo USA and T-Mobile US have formed a collaboration in which, by the end of 2013, NTT Docomo USA will deliver service over T-Mobile’s nationwide LTE network to Japanese expatriates living in the United States. A variety of plans and pricing options will be offered. The initiative, which may be expanded in the future, demonstrates NTT Docomo’s commitment to grow the MVNO business it launched in 2011.
We think this concept is innovative and potentially a good idea, depending on execution. It certainly is unusual in extending the home brand to a provider’s customers living abroad and integrating service between two non-contiguous countries. By offering some 400,000 Japanese business people, students, and other expatriates access to T-Mobile’s 4G network, the initiative should be able to generate revenue for both companies. For NTT Docomo, it stands to strengthen the provider’s brand in the U.S., potentially bolstering customer retention and attracting new business. For T-Mobile, the partnership adds another MVNO partner to its portfolio and opens the possibility of further collaborations with Japan’s predominant MNO.
There is one important unanswered question, though—whether NTT Docomo USA plans to invest in T-Mobile’s LTE infrastructure. Delivering a quality of service high enough to satisfy the targeted customer base may well depend on it.