Amazon is reportedly considering entering the mobile phone business


Amazon is said to be planning mobile phone tariffs for up to ten dollars a month for customers of the premium program Prime.

(Photo: IMAGO)

san francisco The shares of Deutsche Telekom and its US subsidiary T-Mobile US have come under pressure on the stock exchange. On Friday, Telekom shares fell by more than nine percent in the after-hours trading, and T-Mobile’s shares also lost around nine percent in the meantime.

Shortly before, the Bloomberg news agency reported that the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, was in talks in the USA to offer its customers free or very cheap mobile phone tariffs. According to this, talks about a possible cooperation with T-Mobile as well as with the largest mobile operator in the USA, Verizon, and with the newcomer Dish were already running for the offer.

T-Mobile and Verizon immediately denied that there were negotiations with Amazon. A T-Mobile spokesman said Amazon has been a key partner for the company for years. But there is no exchange about the start of a joint mobile service.

A Verizon spokesman also denied that there were talks with Amazon about a cellular service. However, he said: “Our company is always open to new and potential opportunities, but we have nothing to report at this time.”

According to the Bloomberg report, Amazon plans to make a mobile offer for customers of its Prime program in the United States. The monthly costs for this should amount to ten dollars, or even be included in the Prime program free of charge, the news agency reported, citing insiders. The talks have been going on for six to eight weeks. Initially, negotiations were also held with the mobile operator AT&T.

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The start of a free or very cheap mobile phone offer from Amazon in the USA is very unlikely, said Roger Entner, founder of the telecommunications specialist Recon Analytics, the Handelsblatt. T-Mobile could gain little from such a partnership. On the contrary, the mobile operator could lose customers who would rather switch to a cheaper offer from Amazon.

Dish stock gains more than 18 percent

The only beneficiary on the stock market from the report was the mobile newcomer Dish. The company’s stock shot up more than 18 percent. “It’s surprising that speculation about an Amazon program arises whenever Dish is in trouble,” Entner said. The Wall Street Journal reported on talks between Amazon and Dish last week.

Dish has been trying for years to become the fourth network operator in the US alongside Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T. But the plans falter. Dish has yet to build a nationwide cellular network. The company has been renting the mobile network from T-Mobile so far.

In the USA and Europe, it is common for mobile network operators to lease their infrastructure to third parties. In Germany there are currently three operators with a nationwide network: Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica (O2 brand). But a number of third-party providers rent their networks for their own mobile phone offers. 1&1 and Freenet are among the largest of these third-party providers. But discounters such as Rewe or Aldi also offer mobile phone tariffs based on the existing networks.

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With the tariffs, the network operators are primarily trying to lease unused or little-used capacities in their networks. In the USA, the search engine operator Google, among others, rents the network from T-Mobile for its own mobile service.

However, a partnership with Amazon would hardly have any economic advantages for T-Mobile or Verizon, suspected mobile phone expert Entner. With access to Amazon Prime customers, T-Mobile would probably not open up new customer groups. On the other hand, there is a high risk that existing T-Mobile customers will simply swap their tariffs for cheaper offers from Amazon in order to save money. Average revenue per customer at T-Mobile in the US is around $50 a month.

Deutsche Telekom is heavily dependent on its US business. The subsidiary T-Mobile contributes around two-thirds of sales. In addition, business in the USA is particularly lucrative. For comparison: the average turnover per customer per month in Germany is only around 20 euros.

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