Sprint Corp., the third-largest U.S. wireless provider, will use a cloud-based mobile service from ItsOn Inc., which lets carriers manage billing and offer customers flexible plans.
The service oversees traffic management and policy controls for operators, according to ItsOn. The software can also be used by carriers to provide services -- such as new apps and content with built-in connectivity -- in a matter of days or weeks rather than months.
ItsOn, a mobile-technology venture based in Redwood City, California, last year introduced a wireless service called Zact that lets customers tailor plans to their needs. While Zact is targeted at the pay-as-you-go market, Sprint will use the cloud service for contract-based customers, ItsOn’s Chief Executive Officer Greg Raleigh said in an interview.
“Carriers have to become more creative to attract customers,” Raleigh said. “They have to adopt services that are more personal, more relevant. It has to be beyond pricing.”
ItsOn’s software lies on top of a carrier’s network and uses a graphical interface to enable the operator to design and roll out service policies and pricing.
Zact, which leases Sprint’s network to provide its service, offers users 36,000 plan options they can switch between at any time with a mobile application. For example, it lets parents provide kids with short-term access to specific apps like games and block service during school or at night.
Sprint is the first carrier to adopt ItsOn’s cloud service and will download the software on every new Android-based phone it sells, Raleigh said. The mobile phone company will also announce new services using the software in the coming weeks, and some of ItsOn’s capabilities will be exclusive to Sprint in the U.S. “for a period of time,” he said.
Like rival T-Mobile, Sprint has a network that is years behind the technological advances of bigger competitors, AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. The new capabilities from ItsOn could help Sprint differentiate its service, Ira Brodsky, an analyst at Datacomm Research, said in an interview.
“Data service plans have been largely the same for many years,” Brodsky said. “This provides a way to create new and more innovative plans.”
Sprint’s owner, SoftBank Corp. of Tokyo, is nearing an agreement to buy T-Mobile, which has become the fastest-growing U.S. wireless company thanks to price cuts and the marketing antics of CEO John Legere who has branded the company as an un-carrier. ItsOn expects its technology to be adopted by other operators this year, Raleigh said.
“We are bringing more operators into the dynamic market that app developers, Google, Facebook have created,” he said.