SMBs: It's a buyer's market for wireless service

SMBs are on track to spend more than $18 billion on wireless services this year. The nation's carriers have taken notice, says a new survey.

With small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the U.S. on track to spend more than $18 billion this year on wireless services, the nation's largest carriers are rolling out the red carpet, says a new survey from AMI-Partners Inc.

The New York market research firm says Verizon Wireless, Cingular Wireless LLC, Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA Inc. have boosted marketing aimed at SMBs. Sprint and Cingular have introduced rate plans and contract options tailored to SMB customers. The two carriers have also spiffed up their customer care centers, adding knowledgeable staff and products aimed at the SMB segment.

Verizon Wireless, in turn, has formed an SMB sales team to support wireless applications for specific industries, including construction, distribution, legal and professional services.

According to AMI's data, 76% of small businesses and 88% of medium businesses subscribe to mobile services. Spending on wireless going forward will be driven by wireless data application, AMI predicts, noting that "the claim that 'anyplace is your workplace' might finally ring true." The report says: "Although some may argue whether the 400-700 Kbps available from today's cellular-based wireless networks is truly broadband, most industry observers say that it is the 'tipping speed' for many laptop applications."

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer

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