Un-carrier, a term T-Mobile has coined since just over a year ago. To me, it means doing things no other carrier would. Or at least, getting there first. It’s about making moves that will change the industry for the better. It’s about the big picture, not about just making it easier to join your business and become paying customers.
It’s why its earliest move was to do away with the old subsidized phone model where the handset cost was buried in to your plan cost, and you were locked in for two years. It means offering unlimited data, free roaming, canceling overages, offering customers a way out of their contracts with other carriers or offering a way to upgrade when you wanted to not just every 24 months when your contracts end. Removing pain points.
All of those – although clearly meaning to be attractive offers for prospective buyers – had an air of industry-change about them. But I don’t feel that way about any of the announcements made yesterday. But that doesn’t mean I have an issue with any of it. But I do question if it was really Un-carrier?
iPhone 5s test-drive
We’d heard very vague and non-specific rumors leading up to the event that T-Mobile would be offering a way for customers to try out its network before committing to a contract. And I applaud that move. At the same time, I realize that it’s mostly about addressing the age-old stigma surrounding T-Mobile’s network coverage, more than it is about changing the industry.
For many, Verizon and AT&T are cellular security blankets. Customers may be paying more, and be more locked down in to their contracts, but at least they don’t have to endure a patchy 4G network that’ll disappear once you step outside the city. That is the mentality of many: T-Mobile coverage sucks.
Of course, we know T-Mobile’s LTE network has been improving at a ridiculous pace recently. Not only has wideband LTE gone live in multiple locations, we’ve also seen more rural areas and roads getting 4G coverage. And T-Mo needs to help people see that it’s network isn’t as bad as it used to be. Offering a free iPhone for 7 days will help those who aren’t quite brave enough to sign up to a Simple Choice plan and EIP.
I could be wrong. It could end up being something that all carriers end up doing. But, I doubt it.
Uncarrier announcements are always used as platforms to show how fast T-Mobile’s network is expanding and improving. Even just in the past 4 weeks, with a huge number of people filling my inbox with SpeedTest.net and Sensorly tests, it’s been evident that Magenta’s network engineers are using some kind of witchcraft to improve the speed, reach and quality of the networks.
We’ve seen a number of locations upgraded from EDGE to 4G, more being boosted to 15+15 and 20+20 LTE, and others getting VoLTE service. But this is all part of any carrier’s improvement. It’s not Un-carrier to make your service improve. It’s very carrier. Everyone’s at it. But it just so happens that T-Mo’s doing it far quicker than anyone else at the moment.
So, is it impressive? Mightily. Un-carrier? Not so much.
For those on the new Simple Choice plans, this was an awesome announcement. But, it’s already caused a bit of a stink with grandfathered customers on the old $70 unlimited plan. So much so, that there’s already a petition online to get John Legere to offer it to more loyal customers.
It’s part of any business model to offer perks and benefits to your customers for meeting certain criteria. I get money off my broadband bill for having mobile service with the same carrier. New customers get an extra 10GB for signing up as new customers now on the same carrier. Does it upset me? Maybe a little, but, it’s a reality of business.
But on to the actual offer: Having your music streaming from almost any service not being taken from your data allowance? How cool is that? I listen to Spotify all the time, and to have the freedom to listen to as many tracks and playlists as I like without incurring any charges, or have it come from my allowance would be amazing. Sadly, I live in the wrong country and I’m on the wrong carrier.
Dust has Settled
Like I’ve said, all these offers and announcements are generally fantastic. And they were presented in an incredibly fun way with plenty of anger and cursing from T-Mobile’s entertaining CEO. But I’m not convinced any of them should have been labelled with the Uncarrier moniker.
I could be wrong. Maybe this is my 30-year-old grumpy Thursday brain, or I’m just frustrated because I’ve not had enough caffeine yet. I could be right. Maybe I expected more from T-Mobile this time. Maybe you did too?
What do you guys think? Were you impressed by yesterday’s announcements? Let me know why I’m right or wrong in the comments, and I’ll get stuck in when I can.