“Project Dark/Black” Speculation

1469144871_16e40cca09

The last five days or so has seen a rush of discussion regarding “Project Black.” The guessing game for “Project Black” has taken the T-Mobile Internet with hopes from an iPhone launch to an unlimited plan that makes even Sprint jealous. However, this morning was also met by an editorial courtesy of Engadget that begs the question, is a $50 dollar all-you-can-use plan enough to boost T-Mobile USA’s fortunes? The short answer is no, courtesy of the Blogosphere who simply don’t believe that a $50 dollar all-you-can-use plan is enough to give T-Mobile a chance at passing Sprint and taking 3rd place in the US wireless game. Is that the endgame for T-Mobile, $50 dollars and that’s the last gamble before Deutsche Telekom comes a’knockin? First and foremost, we don’t believe that the rate plan is the entire “Project Black” undertaking. Aside from the one thing we know to be true, that the uniforms in the retail stores will be changing, everything else is unsubstantiated.

That’s not to say that the guessing game around the web is wrong or that the hopes of many will be shut down. Engadget isn’t wrong per se, I would just like to think that T-Mobile is smarter than simply launching a $50 plan and hope it carries them past the likes of Sprint. While a plan at that dollar value is certainly more in line with budget carriers like Metro, Cricket or Boost, T-Mobile can’t count on stealing their customers to launch past Sprint. More is required–more plans, more phones and my favorite factor: marketing. Verizon has an awesome marketing campaign; see this link if you don’t think they have a clever team. AT&T has awful marketing, more bars in more places simply makes me think of more “bars” in more places. As in a bar to help me cope with the dropped calls and shoddy network quality.

I don’t think any readers of this website want T-Mobile to stay in fourth place; the customer service is too good and the network is simply far better than some want to believe. T-Mobile once suffered a stigma regarding network quality, yet in recent years has improved the network a hundred times over. The stigma is all but removed, and yet even with award winning customer service, T-Mobile is far too often overlooked. A game changer is needed, there is no question about that. There is only one question right now: is “Project Black” game changing or wishful thinking? Time will tell and it won’t be to long now till we know for sure what’s coming. Trainings are happening soon and leaks are sure to happen, if not to us, to someone else who definitely won’t waste time posting it for the masses.

Whatever happens, we’re behind T-Mobile in achieving their wireless ambitions, we just hope that the T-Mobile powers that be understand what it’s going to take. I’m going to take this website out on a limb and say this $50 dollar plan isn’t correct, it’s not even close to what “Project Dark” is. We’re not saying a rate plan isn’t “Project Dark,” but we have it on good word that any speculation up to this point is wrong. How wrong we don’t know, but wrong. Am I saying this is another unsubstantial claim, yes, but I wouldn’t write it up if I didn’t have good reason to believe it. So you heard it here first, the rate plan claim isn’t “Project Dark,” it may not even exist. If we’re wrong, the $50 plan is awesome, if we’re right, something bigger is brewing. Something much bigger.

Tags: , ,

  • notsurprised

    If this $50 rate plan hits I will be officially embarrassed to work for T-Mobile and it kills me to even think or write that because I truly love what I do and the industry I’m in. Sadly, I will essentially be selling a high quality version of Boost, Metro, and Cricket.

    BTW, thanks for further killing the commission checks of your reps as they can only make $12.50 or $25 per activation now. You will officially be pushing out the last of your tenured sales reps that know what they’re doing and give a damn about what they do. Please continue to keep the low standards going of hiring anyone with a high school diploma or GED as your front line reps and please continue to bring in people that have no business in a management role in a cellular company.

  • one2tres

    android with multi-touch screen and snapdragon processor? Along with the plans/coverage add-ons…

  • Bill

    “I would love to see T Mobile lower it’s rates and dramtically improve it’s network coverage. I would certainly come back.”

    just curious as to what kind of business model would allow for this? expanding the networks is extreamly expensive. one GSM tower costs around a mill to plant. t-mobile is already the lowest cost nationwide provider, so why cannibalize yourself to bring customers in, when they left for higher cost providers in the first place?

    i have sold t-mobile since 2001, and yes, the network could still improve. however, the network map of towers since 2001 has easily doubled from what it used to be, without looking at roaming carriers.

  • tmouser

    I think the Dark Project may be a rebranding of Tmobile with new plans/motto/uniforms/coverage/phones.

    If tmobile is trying to break from it’s reputation as the last place major carrier, they need something big all around. A $50 unlimited everything plan could do it. Tmobile is the low cost national carrier and they haven’t changed their plans in awhile, even though others have added F&F/A-List/AnyMobile. Others have pointed to lack of brochures recently to support new plans. If it were a single plan, they would just add an insert like they’ve done for other promo plans, so they’re probably a changing their whole plan structure overall, or re-branding themselves, or both. Also what better way to showcase your new unlimited plan with data than to introduce new phones. (BB9700 and Nokia N900,…) And no re-branding would be complete without a new slogan: “More for Less” (perfect for this economy) and new uniforms to complete the package. A fast paced rollout of 4G would support these new unlimited data plans they will be selling.

  • Joseph Singer

    Let’s do a little reality here. The only way T-Mobile is going to surpass Sprint’s number of subscribers is if it takes over a very large company. Let’s not forget that before Sprint PCS absorbed Nextel they were not that much bigger than T-Mobile. It’s only through the Nextel addition that Sprint had a lot more subscribers than T-Mobile. Unless T-Mobile buys AT&T I don’t see T-Mobile being anything but number 4 for the foreseeable future. Yes, we’ve heard that thing floated about DT buying Sprint and also Metro PCS but that would sink T-Mobile. T-Mobile does not need the headache of supporting two technologies that are foreign to it.

  • Hersh

    Been with T-mobile since Voicestream…I have always had their back…so I’m excited to see them stepping up to the plate.

  • Bill

    “And no re-branding would be complete without a new slogan: “More for Less” (perfect for this economy)”

    T-mobile has basically lived under this model for years and where has that gotten it? People keep saying the same thing over and over about bringing out a low cost rateplan solution. That is not the solution when you are on average 20-40.00 cheaper than the competition already. T-mobile will be cutting their own throats by releasing rateplans that emphasize this even more. T-mobile needs to become MORE profitable and not concerned about bringing in volumes of customers that expect to have the same level of service for 30% less than the competition. it may start well, but while the others may lose cust temporarilly due to the lure of lower bills, they will use their profit drenched services to increase network capacity, technology, and reliability. customers would then leave to go back to the other providers based off of needs rather than cost, and we would be right back at square 1, which is where we are standing now.

    a better model would be to find a way to lure customers based off of network services, phone selection, and higher levels of customer service. customers will always consider cost after you excel in the first 3. Target has stayed profitable over all these years next to wal-mart, and it wasn’t because they were cheaper. They provide a good product, good customer service, and are competitively priced

  • izzy

    I would have to say that I agree with notsurprised. There is a part of me that would love to be able to offer my customers a $50 ulm plan.. But there is a reason that Flexpay customer care is outsourced to India, Argentina and the Philippines. Let the idiots talk to the idiots. If we were to get a $50 ulm plan then we might as well change our name to Cricket. I hope that this “project black” is something worth the wait.

  • tmouser

    @Bill

    It’s not necessarily about being the cheapest. It’s using the low cost as a way to get a customer base and improving the perception of the brand than anything. Marketing will play a big part. I believe tmobile will try to make a statement about their brand.

    WM/Target is a poor example to back your argument against the low cost model. Although Target has stayed profitable, Walmart has been much more profitable, especially within the last year. It proves the low price high volume model can work well.

  • Bill

    T-mobile has been trying to make a statement about their brand. heck, they even brought catherine back to say it, they are and have always been the lowest cost brand of nationwide carrier.

    the fact is, it has been stated on this board time and again, that people would like to see a lower cost service. however, it’s not just lower cost service, not just lower cost with same service. it’s been stated that they want lower cost with more service (network footprint, better upgrade programs, faster data network).

    my point is two things. One, if we have been, and by have been i do mean since t-mobile has branded the nationwide us network, how will rebranding and lowering the costs effectively improve t-mobile in the long run if they are already the lowest cost nationwide provider? it’s self defeating to lower your prices when your the lowest already. we are not competing with metro pcs, cricket, or other urban based providers. they provide a good service, but not a service that is marketable enough to bring the masses of the type of loyal t-mobile customers that they desire. metro pcs/cricket/or other non-contract unlimited providers, all fall to the same problem. the mass of the people who purchase their product are not reliable.

    Two, if customers want lower cost service, better network reliability, faster data, etc. what’s going to give? network mapping is extremely expensive, t-mobile has spent billions on the 3g network, and upgrading to the new HSDPA is going to get even more costly. so if t-mobile is going to cut profits in the rate plans, increase network size, stability, and speed, who’s going to lose? the first thing that gets cut will always be payroll. bye, bye, customer service. so long low hold times. hello outsourcing. cause i am sure you are not disillusioned in thinking Mr Dotson is going to agree to lower his pay (along with all the other 7 figure exec salaries). the idea of better service, lower cost, is a great idea, but someone will lose in that scenario.

    walmart did it with hiring low cost workers, placing buildings on low cost property and keeping overall overhead down. over the years they have trimmed payroll more and more, outsourced their products to other countries, and kept hiring standards to a minimum. i am not going to argue the product knowledge point. the fact is, when push comes to shove, customers don’t care about product knowledge. otherwise, retail wouldn’t have people that drool on themselves when they talk, and don’t know the difference between a HDTV and a EDTV.

  • Cmon

    “More is required–more plans, more phones and my favorite factor: marketing.”

    T-Mobile by far has the worst marketing out of the 4 majors. I ask people what they think about the MT3G commercials since I work retail and like to know how people see those. I kid you not, every single person has said they were confused by the commercial, they didn’t know what the hell they were being sold. Sure T-Mobile has cute commercials, but what are they selling you? Dating for single dads? Step it up, T-Mo.

    Just a side note, for the mytouch in-store experts, they had a conference call with the VP of marketing, and when a rep brought up how the commercials for the MT3G weren’t that great, the VP responded with “that’s just your opinion.” Even though most reps on the call were in agreement. Nice job.

  • mikeeeee

    i’m really surprised it hasn’t leaked yet.

    just sit back, take a deep breath and wait.

    the signing of the non disclosure documents leaked, what makes anyone think that the whole enchilada won’t be out there b/4 the 25th.

    gimme a game changer.

  • JB6464

    @ notsuprised, why would you be so officially embarrassed with the $50.00 all you can eat plan ? The loyalty unlimited plan is real close to that now and add the $25./month for data it’s not to far off.
    Do you have a college degree just sell phones ? Boy what a waste of a degree if you are so officially embarrassed because it cuts your commission down.
    In case you have’nt caught wind from your customer’s lately,T-mobile 3g is really spotty and their charging 25-35/month for mostly Edge service when you get just outside of the major cities that have the 3G coverage. That’s why people leave T-mobile for other carriers.
    Now bring in a reasonable plan at $50./month all you can eat and people will come to T-mobile knowing their actually getting what their paying for.
    A growing 3G & 4G company that takes time to expand but will give you great customer service along the way.

  • http://moldyjello.com jelly

    I want UMA to be free of roaming charges. so you can call anywhere from a wifi, in any country, and have zero minute charges if you pay for uma

  • sprint user

    Are you guys being serious…do you not realize what 50 bucks a month will do!! I am on Sprint and I will wait about 2 weeks for Sprint to match, and then will move. The only thing I am not sure of is how they handle family plans…but at 50 bucks unlimited they will have so many new subscribers they will be overwhelmed….that is unless all the other carriers match. In case you haven’t noticed, the economy is doing poorly – and 50 bucks for all you can eat is just too good to pass!

  • IwantToKnow

    whats the point of having an iphone on tmbile when theres no good coverage. whats the point of having good cheaps plans when there is no good coverage whats the point of anything without good coverage its all about coverage 1st then plans and then the phone so projectblack better be about better coverage better, bettter 3g better plans and better phones at good prices that will bring tmobile up to number 3 if not there better off buying sprint and let us use their towers for service for better reception

  • GoYankees

    I just read this on Boygeniusreport.com. Sounds pretty big. Anyone think this has anything to do with “Project Black”?

    On Oct 11, 2009 @ 9:01 pm, Byrd Said:

    We have spent millions of dollars upgrading our cell sites for 3G. We continue to make the upgrades in the more rural areas even as we plan for this huge push. It’s not bringing a DS3 to a cell site. It is a partnership with AT&T for an enhanced “pipe” if you will. I can’t go into specifics because of proprietary legalaties. But rest assured, this new role out will blow customers away!

  • Pingback: Lack Of 3G Network Led To Customer Fleeing | TmoNews - Unofficial T-Mobile Blog - News, Videos, Articles and more

  • Vikingsfan45

    Okay this is what t-mobile needs to do its so simple idk why T-mobile Execs haven’t figured it out yet….

    1. Marketing Marketing Marketing t-mobile has like the worst marketing out of all the four carriers. It needs to make a statement of why its the value leader over all the other carriers and also address the reputation of t-mobile having poor coverage. If project Black is releasing a new rate plan, they should market the hell out of it and not release dumbass Mytouch 3G commercials honestly its a joke compared to the IPHONE commercials.

    2. Rate Plans: Even though t-mobile still remains the value leader, its not by a big margin. Some would argue that sprint is beating them in that area so they really have to step it up in that department.

    3. Phones: Some will say that T-mobile phone lineup as of right now isn’t sold and i would have to disagree. T-mobile has the best lineup of phones right now in my opinion, the only thing that dumbass t-mobile does is prices the phones at a price thats way to high. I know there probably trying to make sure they break even on the phone price over the course of the agreement but honestly $349.99 for a TP2 and the average customer that gets a TP2 will actually pay there bill and not be Flexpay. Lol

    4. FLexpay: Get rid of it…. It creates an image that “Well i have a $700 deposit at At&T and Verizon, and a 300 dollar one at Sprint, so by process of elimination T-mobile only place i have to go… All i have to do is pay my first month bill and i get that free phone… lol” You don’t want customers that are forced to you by other customers, you want to create a brand/image that makes it so they want to choose t-mobile first not dead last because they need a phone. Maybe lower deposits then the other providers would work out better……

    I rep the big T magenta till the end of time, don’t get me wrong but thats what i feel that needs to be done either in the future or with project dark.

  • http://none justathought

    Ok this is just my thought but if the want custermers and they add the fiash player that everyone wants then this will bring customers. 2withthe flex pay uping their joining fee to 2months insted of one month now somthing has to be up they have to be planning on bying somthing if they paten with abode on the flash then that totally knocks off the I phone ass the #1 baught phone 3rd people want a phone the can use for anything tv movies radio they won’t be bound to what tmoble has for them they’ll have what the net has to offer them in the palm of there hand then people from the #1 net work move to the number 4 and walla now tmoble is number or even 2 or#1

  • JB6464

    A $50.00/month all you can eat plan.
    HTC HD2 with WM or Android OS.
    1 year contract.
    Unlimited mobile to mobile anywhere.
    Offer unlocked phones as well.

  • Hushpook

    Companies don’t typically have employees sign non-disclosure agreements just to announce rate plan changes. And rate plan changes don’t require retraining….they require an email.

    Although it must be said that ‘T-Mobile at Home’ was also called a ‘Game Changer’ by T-Mobile. That went off like a wet Roman Candle.

    The US is 5 years behind Europe in terms of wireless telecommunications…and has been since cellular was in a bag. Maybe Obama is teaming with T-Mobile? Maybe they will rebrand it, calling it T-Bama or O-Mobile. What is more European that big business & government in bed together. Can you say Socialist Facism?

    When Verizon went to unlimited talk for $99 18 months ago, it was a huge deal. It took 2 months, and the entire industry had done the same thing. If Project Black is just a new rate plan, T-Mobile will be alone with this plan for about 2 days. It better be a whole new way of doing business…..no charge for incoming calls, no international LD or text charges, one price point, expanded no contract options, better & cheaper handset selection, rich feature buckets for a low add on price, better coverage, expanded 3G, per second billing sorts of things.

  • JR

    Hushpook, you are correct in that we are Far Far behind Europe in cellular service. However, Europe is not the same at the US. The landscape is vastly different and easier to cover for the most part. But what I like most about cellular service in Europe is that it’s cheaper and their business plan is different than here. You can go into a store and purchase any phone you want and some stores like Vodaphone have a 75 unlocked phones on the wall, that alone makes it very appealing. Since T-Mobile is part of Deutsche Telekom, maybe they will adopt the same idea here? I’ll tell you, that will bring swarms of people to T-Mobile and indeed would be a game changer of sorts. The Network is another story though. While I love T-Mo I get frustrated at times that I can’t get a signal in a many places. I think they really need to merger with someone to help them expand. AT&T and Verizon are just too big giants than they will not surpass.

  • Bill

    supervisor told me after her project black meeting that they talked about the fender mytouch, and yes, new cheaper rateplans/features. amongst which was mentioned that m2m will include texting now.

  • Bill

    @JR

    you can’t compare the two ideas behind cellphone companies. america and Europe approach it completely separately. america subsidizes their handsets while Europe does not. while subsidizing handsets is an object of controversy, because of customers being upset at new subscribers getting subsidized costs while tenured customers have to wait till their contract has expired (or close to it) to receive the same discount, the fact is most people will refuse to pay close to retail price of 500.00 for a phone they can get for 200.00 at a subsidized price.

    you also have to realize that T-mobile was the first major GSM player in the cellular market while other carriers were still mostly analog. most the signal u get with verizon and att is still analog. while this does not change the end result of whether u get signal or not, just look at what the t-mobile network map was when they first took over voicestream, and look at it now.

    to say that there is no network issues with t-mobile and they don’t need to make improvements is a fool’s argument. however, as a rep for t-mobile i can tell you on more than one occasion that i speak with customers that have tried both verizon and att in certain areas that t-mobile will get coverage and the others will not. the cellphone networks of all nationwide providers will always be swiss cheese and all of them will never be able to fill all the holes.

  • JR

    @Bill
    Yes, I understand that Europe has a very different approach than the U.S. and I’ve stated that. I was making a point to mention the Euro approach and how much of a game changer it would be. Yes, there are many people (probably the majority) that don’t care for an expensive phone and even though Europe doesn’t subsidise them they have “cheap” handsets. I’ve been to Europe and the Vodophone stores have handsets of all kinds. Anyway, back to my point. IF, and that is big IF T-Mo where to do something like that, do you think that they would increase subscribers? I think so, but they would also have to IMO, increase their reach with the current network because no matter how good the handset offerings are, it really comes down to the network and if you can get a good signal. These are just my thoughts and not something that I think T-Mo US would do. IMO Europe does it right compared to the way our carriers do it here in the U.S.

    I am a T-Mo subscriber and have been for a long time along with every other carrier too. I am sticking with them for now but coverage speaks.

  • http://tmo “dark (project) knight”

    dark project… new uniforms, cheap unlimited plan, and a possible merger with cable company, think about it, it only makes sense. plus hot new phones:: driftwood, n-series nokias, cliq, behold 2. should give sprint real competition for 3rd spot. store managers for tmobile get trained on it on thurs. 10/15. so im sure something will be leaked online with the juicy details.

  • pyt3333

    I TOTALLY AGREE WITH NOTSURPRISED. THEY ARE KILLING ME…HOPEFULLY WE’LL ACTUALLY GET RAISES AND DECENT COMMISSION NEXT YEAR…BUT IM NOT COUNTING ON IT.

    ANYWAY,

    IM GOING OUT ON A LIMB TO SAY THAT THIS PROJECT PROBABLY HAS TO DO WITH EITHER “4G”, MOBILE TV OR VIDEO CALLING…BUT IM EXCITED TO SEE WHAT TMO HAS UP THEIR SLEEVES…

  • cloak n dagger

    Ok, I know two people who have already been fired from T-mobile for even talking a little bit about project dark so I’m not going to reveal anything about it because I need my job but believe me when I say this thing is HUGE… if you likes t mobile you should be VERY excited! If you don’t like tmobile you will real soon lol

  • http://tmobile Rep

    first off not surprised your a idiot.
    second i work for tmobile and 50 dollar everything unlimited is awesome. But therer will be a catch “everything” meaning web2go. Customers will have to pay probably 10 dollars more for mytouch and Blackberry Data thats a given so 60 bucks everything unlimited is not bad ontop of that add PHP, Callertunes, Accessories you could easily make 50 60 bucks commission on one sale now if your not capable its your fault not mine.
    Third i expect rate plan changes anyway and data changes too. going back to my second point in our market we do offer callertunes for free on the first month so yeah boost that arpu up buddy but i bet you might not be consious enough to realize that.
    Fourth i expect launches of phones like crazy.
    And Fifth like my manager told me two years ago tmobile did a all out blitz everyhting goes whatever it takes to make sales so yeah discounting like no tomorrow =).

    ps. As a rep i couldnt be happier to sell tmobile not only because we have soo much opportunity to make $$ but its a growing company and if your too ignorant to realize that go work for sprint, att, verizon. Jerk.

  • sjw

    Lets hope they make some changes to their other plans as well. Not everyone needs unlimited everything. Nights starting at 7p, with a buy down to 6p would be nice. Adding myfaves as an add on to individual phones on a family plan would be nice too. This would help people tailor plans to their needs. And maybe they should contract with sprint to get nextel direct connect as an add on. At least while we are dreaming.

  • mf2009

    Training has started. T-mobile is changing their plans altogether. Only 3 family plans and 3 individual plans. Yes one is unlimited everything. They wont release pricing to reps until 10/25 release dates. Overtime is also being offered to customer reps to help with the migration. I am very skeptical about our job’s as t-mobile reps. Cross our fingers.

  • little ghost

    I am having a meeting this Sunday to discuss the “top secret” meeting that was held in my store earlier today! WE WILL SIGN DISCLOSURE papers to ensure we stay mum! I am hella stoked to know what all the hush-hush is all about! I highly doubt that we get our hands on the Iphone.. I guess we just have to wait and see!!!

  • matthew saltzman

    hold the press if this does take place it will stop the stupid monopoly.. GLAD TO BE APART OF T-MOBILE

  • anewhope

    I just hope one of the announcements is the end of flexpay and flexpay outsourced employees lol

  • rationally convinced

    For those of you how complain about your commission check I will say only one thing. NO ONE in t-mobile got a raise…
    You probably are too thick skulled to understand so I will put it in term you can. T-mobile acutally cares abut their employees.
    They could have followed in the same tracks as the other carriers and laid off in mass amounts, however t-mobile decided to keep jobs and benefits. Each and every t-mobile employee retained their retirement, health, medical, and vision coverage, and countless other programs(tuition assistance,child care, ect..).
    So next time you want to complain about the money you think you should be making count yourself lucky that you aren’t standing in the unemployment line.

    Now as to address the rest of this, T-Mobile would benefit from a face lift. Since none us of have the knowledge
    on how something like this would work we can only speculate.
    We are not paid to understand how things will change from within. I can say without a doubt that the right prople are in the right place at the right time.
    Whatever this change is I’m positive it will be massive. If it wasn’t there would be confirmed leaks. The speculation dark project is flying around because people want to know what’s happening.
    If it wasn’t something massive t-mobile wouldn’t be playing it so close to che chest.
    I happen to know for a fact that everyone that has knowledge of this project has been sworn to keep it quiet. They have been threatened with termination as well as lawsuit.

    As for the marketing “smart time beats dumb dollars”. T-mobile does not have the advertising budget that some of the other carriers have so they must use their money wisely.
    I am sure that they are going to use their budget during key times. I don’t have a clue what that looks like but I’m sure it will increase during the next few months. T-mobile has always been a value leader and will continue to be one.
    The speculations around dark project are very interesting.

    I think I will just wait until it launches and find out directly from the source…