T-Mobile prepping its own feature to link a phone number across devices

mike sievert

AT&T today announced NumberSync, a feature that’ll let customers use their phone number across connected devices like smartwatches and tablets. AT&T’s not the only carrier that’s cooking up such a feature, though.

T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert says that Magenta is working up its own version of NumberSync, adding that it’ll beat out AT&T’s offering. “What we are working on will make this version one offering from AT&T look small,” Sievert teased, going on to diss AT&T’s strategy of building things and then trying to make customers believe that they asked for them. “Our strategy is to ask customers what they want and need, and then build it,” he said.

While not everyone has a smartwatch or tablet that can make calls and send texts, folks that do can run into the problem of having multiple phone numbers that they try to contact people from. This can be a pain for their recipients, who then have multiple numbers to keep track of. AT&T’s NumberSync feature aims to solve that problem, and it’ll be interesting to see how T-Mobile’s feature takes NumberSync farther.

Source: Re/code

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  • TheVorlon

    Virtual phone number already exists.

    It’s called Google Voice.

  • doubleatheman

    Sooo Google Voice goes mainstream like a decade late…

  • drcaveman

    Was going to say Google Voice, but was beaten to it

  • EffortLess

    This is a little different in that it can provide service to more than one device using the same number. Google Voice (which I’ve used since before it was Google Voice and love) only works if you already have service (cell or Wi-Fi) of some sort.

    The example of a watch for example… It may be a hassle to use GV on a watch. I can get texts easily, but managing which number I use to text prior to receiving a GV text might not work. Also this may be a cheaper way of enabling service on that watch by “sharing” your own number across devices for a small fee. I’m referring to standalone type watches that also function as a cell phone with a SIM.

    Hoping they’ve thought this out well before release so they maximize on their opportunity.

  • Android_God

    it’ funny how personally T-Mobile execs seem to take AT&T. T-Mobile has obviously made great strides so you would think they could stop acting like children. It’s like we’re so dumb as consumers that we need a Real Housewives like CEO / leadership team.

    • DILAW IDDAHLA

      I totally agree and I have been saying this for a long time. I have been with T-Mobile for 11 years. It’s childish how they are always calling out their competition for attention when they don’t need to do so.

      • Mike Palomba

        Everything they have been doing is working so I don’t think they need to change their methods

        • DILAW IDDAHLA

          so you think calling out att, verizon, and sprint is bringing more customers in or their prices are? How about the silly posts by T-Mobile’s CEO are bringing customers in? What T-Mobile is doing is working when it comes to their pricing, features, and improving their coverage, but the silly/childish posts by their exec is not adding any value in my opinion.

        • Mike Palomba

          All these things give them publicity. If they didn’t do these unusual things they’d be in the news far less then they are currently and less people would know about them

        • dtam

          a lot of it is a a working strategy. most people don’t care about who the CEO is but commercials talking about how the competition is “screwing you” and “this is how we do it differently” does work.

    • Spanky

      You’ve hit the nail on the head. I’ve been saying this for a while, only to be called a troll by the T-Mobile cult. Instead of worrying what other carriers are or aren’t doing, T-Mobile should concentrate on their own activities. Their obsession with AT&T has lost its charm and is becoming borderline unhealthy.

      • gpt2010

        I don’t think you are a troll, it is a good point. Some people may not agree with TMO strategy, but I personally agree with TMO. Sure it may seem childish, but why would they stop? Their strategy is working, and the numbers show it. If something is working, keep doing it. Who cares what some people think about the professionalism? Customers aren’t leaving. If they are, it is a small minority. In the end, the consumer is winning. Not only TMO customers, but all other carrier’s customer base. Plans across the board have significantly dropped in price and value has increased. You can’t over charge a customer now and think you will get away with it. This has Verizon and ATT on their heels. And if you think they are too big to worry about it. Proof is in how many times they have changed their plans to add more value. I say, thanks TMO. Keep doing what you are doing! I really appreciate the savings on my monthly bill and the freedom to buy my phone anyway I choose.

        • Spanky

          I’m enjoying my lower monthly bill as well, can’t argue with that! I’d love to switch back to T-Mobile (I’m a former customer of over 7 years), but what I need from my carrier cannot be rectified by T-Mobile’s uncarrier features: reliable coverage. To me, a carrier is a dumb pipe and I only rely on them to provide service whenever and wherever I may need it. As soon as T-Mobile’s coverage and building penetration match that of AT&T or Verizon, I’ll certainly be a returning customer.

        • JustinHaygood

          It does now in Band 12 Markets

        • Spanky

          It did get better, but still seriously lags behind the big two. A few weeks ago, I was at a well-attended event about 40 miles north of NYC. One of my friends, a T-Mobile customer, had no service at all , not even Edge. I had 3 bars of LTE on my AT&T phone. In my own area (Bath Beach in Brooklyn, a band 12 market), the only carrier worse than T-Mobile is Sprint.

        • JustinHaygood

          Were they using a Band 12 phone?

          I live in the rural fringe outside of Atlanta (Paulding County, just east of Paulding Forest) and I get LTE on T-Mobile with good coverage, both Band 12 and Band 4 available.

          It actually has better coverage than Verizon and AT&T (both of which are LTE, but not as good of coverage…)

          Sprint sucks. I Agree.

        • Spanky

          He wasn’t using a band 12 phone, but T-Mobile doesn’t have band 12 in that area anyway. It was just straight “No Service”.

        • gpt2010

          If you need the coverage that AT&T and Verizon offer. Then TMO will probably never be for you. My main concern is get the cheapest service that works where you work, live, and play. TMO has answered that for me. So personally I don’t need to overpay for Verizon coverage cause I will never take advantage of it. Nor do I plan to. I don’t care if Verizon or AT&T is faster in a certain major city over TMO. As long as I am getting the speed I think I need to do what I want to do. I am happy. Too much time is spent on metrics. Get me what is most important. Value. You will never please everyone on coverage. But make up for it with value. And for me and millions of others. That is TMO.

        • Spanky

          In terms of value, I get a 25% FAN discount with AT&T through my employer. My monthly bill is significantly lower than what T-Mobile would charge for a comparable plan.

        • gpt2010

          That’s a good deal, but not everyone is able to get that. So AT&T is a great choice for you, but not for me and probably most others who don’t get discounts. That why we choose TMO.

      • dtam

        it’s been a working strategy so far…”they suck, we do it better”, “this is how they screw you over, this is why we don’t”. marketing wise, it’s a good strategy

    • Richard Roma

      Not only that, lets face it, their coverage is still swiss cheese. Not to mention, they still have half the subscribers of carrier #2.

      They have made some great progress but lets not become the next Sprint, whose management and users assume that their network is better than everyone else, even though its actually the worst.

    • Joe D

      Its all a game. Its not personal its business. And yeah attacks work. Its a hell of a PR strategy and its pretty damned effective.

  • Richard Roma

    Customers have asked for actual non-wifi coverage, 100 fold better roaming within America, and a more reliable billing and ordering systems, yet these are still pending.

    • maximus1901

      Tom roams on att. Att charges TMO $100/GIG. Not much can be done.

    • dtam

      I wouldn’t say pending, I would say ongoing.

    • enkay1

      >Customers have asked for actual non-wifi coverage

      More is lighting up every day.

      >100 fold better roaming within America

      Not their fault AT&T prices their roaming sky-high. Unless you want your bill to go up, more AT&T roaming isn’t gonna happen. T-Mobile has been doing what they can about this. They have unlimited access agreements (some with LTE) with many rural carriers such as Union, GCI, Viaero, and others.

      >more reliable billing and ordering systems

      Ya got me there. T-Mobile’s IT is shit.

    • Joe D

      Which “customers”? This sounds like some cut and paste PR statement. Dont come in here with that nonsense. 100 fold? As opposed to what 50 fold or 5 fold? Youre pulling sh- out of your ass and trying to sound smart. You end up looking like a plant. A reliable billing and ordering system? Hahahah what average joe customer talks about or knows anything about a company’s billing system and platform or comments about it heh

  • Rob H.

    Be careful T-Mobile don’t want to get a letter from AT&T’s lawyers for “stealing” their original idea.

    • Irfan

      this idea is pretty old but need to follow up with rules / procedure / investment / implementation / strategy …
      In USA the market is sensitive big companies try to eat small one , FCC rules are hard to implement , Big nation need big investment .. things are complicated here in USA

  • teabaghater

    How about more phones??? your offering is blah (WINDOWS) I like , not really into having the same phone as everyone else

  • guest

    Not everyone wants to use a Google product like Google Voice.

    So it’s a good feature to have as an option.

  • Great Tool (Service)…

    Yes, some of us…. NOT all of us, really enjoy using Google Voice application. For me it has been a great service…

  • BadBatz

    Ha! That’s revolutionary :-)
    BroadVoice (my VoIP provider) has had consumer-level “multi presence” for years, in fact we have 3 devices connected to the same number on 2 different continents and it works like a charm.
    What’s next, AT&T, the wheel..?

  • Botiemaster

    I hope this means I will be able to get my old unused HTC one/paid off from tmo smartphone back online with tmo and have the same number for both phones. It would really be nice if I can just have it turned back to on for the network and not have to pay ANY FEE whatsoever. Basically I want 2 phones on the same account number. It isn’t that hard, nor does it need greedy fingers touching the idea. I might be willing to pay a 10 dollar device fee or whatever, but that’s it.

    If I can use devices on my account then it shouldn’t be a problem having a second phone with the same number. I know eyes grow large, and exec’s drool over the possibility of double dipping customers and making them pay for having two phones same line, but they need to chill out. Ain’t nobody doubling their bill to use a second phone on their number. Make me pay a device fee, share my plan data with the current phone, and call it a day. This way I can take my older phone to the golf course for apps and my newer phone can stay all nice and minty and away from dirt and etc at the course. That’d be worth 10 bucks a month.

    BUT, you just know that despite being tmobile, execs are execs and they are drooling at the thought of charging us for at least a line fee. Your market is going to be small by default for this so you’ll look to cash in as much as possible, and why let customers pay $10 when you can get $20, $30, or $40? Hopefully they have enough sense to offer various ways to go about this, from my wanted $10 range to their probable and ideal offer of ‘second phone same number with it’s own plan for normal pricing, if that’s your thing! ‘