Will Wednesday’s Big Event See The Unveiling Of T-Mobile’s Upgrade Club, Major LTE Rollouts?

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With yesterday’s image of a newspaper ad that ran over the weekend taking pot shots at AT&T’s lengthy upgrade period, a thought occurred to me. If we can take ourselves back in time to March 26th, T-Mobile hinted to CNET that they were considering a “club” that would allow for “anytime upgrades.”

The club, which would require a “very small” membership fee would allow for a maximum of two upgrades per year, though it’s unclear if any membership fee would be annual or monthly. In exchange for this fee, customers would receive insurance on their device as well as the two annual upgrades. The idea of this club is just one of many opportunities T-Mobile’s CEO is considering with their new UNcarrier model.

“We’re going to innovate in this space,” Legere told CNET. “This model will allow us to do that.”

There’s no question the cycle of smartphone arrivals far outpaces that of the standard upgrade process, especially those of T-Mobile’s competitors like AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile’s Chief Marketing Officer also made note back on March 26th that the company could innovate in ways their competitors can’t and perhaps this is one of T-Mobile’s “boldest moves ever.”

“Today is laying a foundation that’s going to allow us to innovate in ways that our competitors, with their older style business models, just aren’t able to do,” T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert told CNET.

Now, pair those comments up with a survey T-Mobile did back in late February with a select group of customers that inquired about the possibility of certain new upgrade policies.

“Imagine if T-Mobile offered an option to upgrade as often as you wanted by paying the same phone price that is offered to new customers. This program would be available to customers who 1) pay a monthly fee, and 2) trade-in their current phone.”

The next slide then asks about how interested a customer would be about trading in their current phone for a discounted price on the new phone. Needless to say, it’s all very hypothetical on my part but the ad T-Mobile ran in the Wall Street Journal certainly got the hamsters in my head moving this morning. I hadn’t looked at these slides in a long time, at least since they arrived in my inbox 5 months ago. Now, the stars appear to be aligning. Maybe.

I’m still of the belief that tomorrow has something to do with T-Mobile’s Phase II of the UNcarrier strategy and I suspect some sort of upgrade club plays a key role.

Putting the “upgrade club” aside for the moment, it also seems likely that T-Mobile will use tomorrow at a platform to launch a large number of new LTE markets. Given that their “first half” 2013 deadline of 100 million POPS has come and gone, tomorrow seems ripe for a major announcement of at least the two dozen markets that were a part of our leaked list some six weeks ago.

That’s two possible items on T-Mobile’s agenda, will we see or hear of any surprises?

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  • Richard Yarrell

    Sounds great to me

    • Garo.j

      Hopefully T-Mobile will announcing the availability of the LG G2 in August. The G2 Is hands down the best android device of 2013. LG has taken the #1 spot away from samsung.

      • g2a5b0e

        Said no sane person ever.

        If you’re gonna say something so goofy, at least give us some reasons why you believe a device that hasn’t even been released yet, nor has had a full spec sheet released for it qualifies as the best device of the year.

        • Garo.j

          The specs have been leaked. Try googling it .the G2 is a beast

        • g2a5b0e

          I’ve seen them & they are by no means official.

  • CC

    Sounds like a great plan!

  • khalidalomary

    im in

  • Jazzyjeff215

    I thought you could already upgrade when you want once you payoff your phone?

    • Jesse James

      yes but the difference is once you pay off your current phone you own that phone forever and then have to spend a ton more money for a new phone. Currently its going to cost you $500-$700 a year to just get one new high end phone a year. I assume this is supposed to be a cheaper way to get a new phone yearly but never actually own the phone. It may be more similar to leasing a car depending on how they work the details

      • Jazzyjeff215

        Oh okay I understand it better now thanks for breaking it down

  • jelliottz

    After owning my 3rd Nexus phone this doesn’t appeal to me as it use to. I use to buy the latest and greatest as it became available, but that’s when hardware was making GIGANTIC steps. Going from 200mhz processors with basically no ram to 528mhz processors to 1ghz and 768mb of ram to 1ghz dual core, 1.5ghz dual core and a full gig of ram, and now quad-core processors with 2gb of ram. All of this in the span of a few years.

    Now I’m more concerned with software. The only way to guarantee that is to go with a Nexus device. That or buy an iPhone, and well, that’s not going to happen.

    • Justin Black

      What are your concerns with software?

      I use windows phones and Nokia continues to make strides in imaging. The problem is that T-Mobile gets their tech 6 mo after everyone else and does a crap job of supporting WP. I’m a recovering 810 victim, so no thanks.

      • Excuse me T-Mobile a lot of times gets flagships FIRST, unlike Verizon who makes their subscribers wait an entire month or even longer ala htc One. Misinformation abound! don’t blame T-Mobile for buying a sub-par device that doesn’t get updates due to not enough people buying them.

        • Guest911

          Dude – did you a actually read his comment? Stop yapping and start reading.

        • I read it perfectly thank you, I’m quite sure you’re the same guy just logging in as “Guest911”. It’s not yapping fyi, it’s called accurate information unlike the garbage you “two” seem to be spewing. Ignorance everywhere online, I swear.

        • BlackJu

          OK, well you’re not reading for comprehension. I was referring to WINDOWS PHONES, specifically NOKIA flagship devices. I usually refrain from all caps, but you’ve overlooked key information.

          Also, Tmo has a long history of not supporting WP in general, not just the 810. The 710 (a big seller) and Radar were not properly supported either. Ignorance everywhere online indeed.

      • jelliottz

        I would be using WP8 if my work Exchange would allow it. I have used WP since release. I’m back on Android because of that. My Nexus runs flawlessly.

        As to T-Mobile, they have made great strides to increase their flagship offerings. I can’t think if anyone who has a better selection or price structure. Now let’s just work on the coverage (which I admit is improving).

        • BlackJu

          Odd that they don’t allow it. I use my work Exchange with zero issues.
          But, again, I’m interested in the latest offerings from MS and Nokia.

        • jelliottz

          It meets all the security requirements, but my employer hasn’t “officially” certified it yet.

    • drklahn

      The last few years have been extremely exciting in terms of hardware evolution. But you’re right, we’re almost at the point where future improvements are incremental at best.

      • jelliottz

        I don’t want to be the “battery life guy,” but I would really like to see that be the next area of focus. Not bigger, more efficient. 720/1080 screens are great. 2&3gb of ram make us lag-less. Cameras that rival point-and-shoot devices. Now let me use my phone for more than 2-4 hours of screen time.

        • RedGeminiPA

          Only 2-4 hours? What phone do you have? I get many hours out of my iPhone 5.

        • jelliottz

          That’s 2-4 hours of screen on time. It will last all day and into the next if I’m under normal use: fire off texts and emails all day. When I’m browsing a lot and streaming video is when I get the 2-4 hours screen time. Its all in how you use the device.

          And to answer the question I have a Nexus 4.

        • JBrowne1012

          the video is killing your battery

        • Dakota

          I dont know how people get so much battery life. I have the Galaxy Nexus and if I have the data turned on, it never lasts a day. God forbid, I make a couple calls or check a website or play a game for 10 minutes

        • thepanttherlady

          Games and movies are my nemesis when it comes to cell batteries. :/

        • Robert

          Have you carried an HTC one with it’s “measely” 2300mh battery? I get a full 12 hours easily, and would guess on those rare occasions when my outlet to outlet time exceeds that, I could get well over. There have been times when my One has lasted a full 24h on one charge.

    • Dakota

      I’m only getting Nexus if a big upgrade comes or probably will switch to an iphone once and for all

  • What’s cool is even if most subscribers don’t take advantage of this new “Upgrade Club”, it doesn’t hurt the company at all. It’s there if you want it, but can easily be ignored if you don’t. Seems like a win win situation to me.

  • i had forgotten about this event … i’m interested in seeing what TMO does that’s for sure.

  • steveb944

    This is the same thought I had after reading yesterday’s article. I can’t wait and I hope it’s true!

  • Ted G.

    If your old phone is still in demand (twice yearly upgrade option implies fairly new technology), you can probably do better just selling on Craigslist rather than trading in. Like used cars, the dealer offers wholesale price for trade in and you can get the retail price for the minor trouble of the listing. If insurance is part of the deal it might be an OK option for those who like insurance. I don’t, they don’t offer insurance for my benefit. They do it for profit which means it’s basically a bad deal in most cases. Just say no every time someone offers you an extended warranty (just another word for insurance) and you will save enough over time to replace any devices that actually do fail. Only insure what you CANNOT afford to replace (life, health, home, and liability on auto for me). I don’t carry disability any more since I’m retired, nor collision on my car because I can afford to replace it. YMMV. I’m more likely to go to church naked than to buy into an extended warranty or insure my phone.

    • Jose Hernandez

      I understand what you are saying, but the article says that the small fee charged will enable you to participate on the program and also insure the phone so if something happens the phone can be replaced. I for one would jump at the chance to do this, I would love to be able to upgrade my phone twice a year. This program would enable me to do just that.

      • Ted G

        Choice is a good thing. One size doesn’t fit all.

    • BlackJu

      Also, if you’re clumsy or abusive to your phone, you may benefit in the long haul.

    • bob90210

      Just because a business is making a profit on the services they sell does not mean it’s a bad deal for the customers. Sometimes it’s because business can do things better or more efficiently; other times it’s because the customer would rather have someone else do the work so that they have more time to do something else.

      That being said, insurance for phones are a ripoff.

      • taron19119

        how is insurance for phone a rip off

        • bob90210

          You will pay more for insurance than you will likely collect.

          Let’s use a Note II for example. The monthly insurance cost is $12 and the deductible is $175 per claim.

          If break your phone and get a replacement at the end of two years, you will have spent $463 ($12 * 24 + $175) for a phone that will be worth $150 (remember, you will receive a refurbished phone).

          You still come out behind at the end of 1 year; $319 for phone that will worth be worth around $300. But you will probably keep the insurance for the full two years so the total cost is $463.

          If you make two claims at the end of each year, you will pay $638 for phones worth about $450.

          You will need to make more that one claim a year to break even. And remember, you are limited to 2 claims in any 12 month period.

        • taron19119

          okay what do you do when you break your phone and you have no insurance you’re going to pay six to seven hundred dollars again

        • thepanttherlady

          I think the OP’s point is that a normal customer doesn’t break their phone often. That same $12/monthly fee you’re saving can then be used to purchase yourself a brand new replacement (or different phone) vs. a refurbished one.

        • bob90210

          Even if you’re not a normal customer and break your phone every year, insurance is still the worst option.

        • bob90210

          Don’t break your phone. Buy a used phone if it breaks (your replacement phone will be used anyway). If you can’t afford to replace it, buy a cheaper phone (if you can afford a $175 deductible then you can afford a $175 phone). Put the $12 a month into a can and use it when it you need replace your phone.

          It’s just a phone. You will probably live if you have a cheaper one or don’t have one at all.

        • taron19119

          maybe you might have a point in the seven years and counting with T Mobile I only me 1 insurance claim

        • D Nice

          Bob I will be the first to say that your argument is sound!

  • William_Morris

    Still waiting on Pensacola to get LTE and I’ll make the switch to Tmo.

  • thepanttherlady

    If this is about the “Upgrade Club” we’ve heard about, I would have the following questions I hope are answered:

    1. Which “new customer” price? Classic plan new customer price? If it’s the Simple Choice plan, which tier (or is it going to still be based on credit)?
    2. If a customer opts in to this club, can they opt out? What are the penalties if they can/do?
    3. If upgrades are 2 a year, will the customer be forced to take both? If not, this would definitely benefit those customers that use their phones for more than a year. e.g. At $10/month for the “club” fee and using the largest down payment required for a Simple Choice plan customer (I think is $326 for an iPhone) = $120 + $326 = $566 for a customer that uses an iPhone for 1+ years. Of course, this is pure speculation on my part.
    4. “Current phone” trade-in. Will it have to be the last phone purchased using this program? Or current phone activated on the line?
    5. If the customer is able to opt out of this (e.g. paid the club fees for the year), do they own the phone free and clear?

    Tomorrow we shall see. :)

  • Jay J. Blanco

    50 new lte markets and 15 new Metro PC Markets….. only in my dreams lol

    • I will say this. I’ve had LTE working in my Detroit Metro area suburbs for the entire month of June, today it seems stronger 3-4 bars today than it’s ever been(1-2 bars) and in even more places than usual. I’d truly be surprised if broad LTE launches weren’t announced tomorrow.

      • Jay J. Blanco

        I hope so 50 would be awesome :-)

        • Frettfreak

          You guys all suck! Lol. I am lucky to get 2mb down. And tmo calls this 4g

        • Jay J. Blanco

          Your area should improve once the refarm hits your area.

  • chum lee

    The upgrade club doesn’t make sense. I work for Tmobile….on the Simple Choice….everybody always get new customer pricing…”full price”. I don’t see how there’s any advantage for paying for what you already get, unless the “upgrade” will auto pay off the remaining EIP balance.

    • thepanttherlady

      See #1 in my post below. I would assume for this to be beneficial for the customer, it would have to be a monthly/annual fee for the “club” and a one time payment for the phone. Take EIP out of the equation and the customer could potentially be paying less than full price for the phone.

      This might be great (if offered) for customers utilizing the new no credit check Simple Choice plans.

  • Zach Mauch

    I’m really hoping for some major news on LTE that is beyond what we already know. We can get a good idea of coverage by simply checking out Sensorly.com. What I would love would be an announcement of expidited LTE rollout and maybe even an expansion of their existing network to more rural areas.

    For carriers not named AT&T and Verizon, overall coverage is there biggest vice. That is why I’m hoping that the networks just decide to stick with LTE for the foreseeable future and not attempt further upgrades (5G). The carriers have had to invest SOOOOO much money in network upgrades and it seems as soon as they got part way with one network upgrade the next advancement occurred. This is why we are still stuck with edge or GSM based data in so many places on T-Mobile and Sprint.

    LTE is plenty fast. Let’s spend the next 5 years perfecting and expanding those networks. Then we have virtually everyone in the USA covered, we can start upgrading to a new standard.

    • D Nice

      Well said Zach!

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    Hoping for better coverage in bay area as well. I have been seeing dreaded E lately even in places in Cupertino, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and man E is so horrible it’s unbelievable. Thank god I don’t see it places like my work location and home. Honestly I don’t think much will improve until Metro spectrum is converted in to T Mobile

    • taron19119

      what phone are you using

      • JaswinderSinghJammu


    • NYCTheBronx

      I rarely see Edge in East Side San Jose. Where do you usually get edge?

      • JaswinderSinghJammu

        I saw edge just yesterday off De Anza. Here is the address 10601 South DeAnza Blvd Suite 303 Cupertino, CA 95014. It’s right off De Anza between 85 and Stevens Crk and not in a basement. I have it in century theater of Winchester across from Santana Row. I saw it in Milpitas Century. I saw it downtown but that was in a building. You want more I can email you on your personal email address the screen shots.

        • Delusion_FTL

          Next time you hit edge try forcing your band to umts on 1900 (band 2). I’ve found often that the radio’s in t-mobile phones when umts degrades on band 4 (aws) instead of switching to umts on band 2 will fall back to edge. There are places at my work where I force my phone onto band 2 and never see edge where if I left it at automatic it would often drift into edge.

        • JaswinderSinghJammu

          How do I do that? It’s only happens in places I don’t visit frequently but it’s always good to know more tricks

        • Delusion_FTL

          I don’t have the information on how to do it on all devices, but on samsung devices you simply go to your dialer and type *#BAND#
          Then choose wcdma then select 1900. To change back simply go back into the screen and choose automatic.

  • rob

    Maybe tmobile will announce wifi calling on the iphone 5

  • sloanie

    So how things currently are, if I sell my phone and pay the balance in full to T-Mobile, am I not eligible to buy a new phone at that price anyways?

    • taron19119

      No not right if u pay off your phone u can get a new one wit a down payment but wit this u can u upgrade while finance your phone

  • ssl0408

    I know this is unrelated, but thought I might pass on this info to potential buyers. Shopnbc.com is selling the Galaxy S4 and their installment payments are $115.80 per month over 5 months. I know it’s more than going through T-Mobile, but their return policy is 30 days without a restocking fee. I’m on the $30 prepaid plan so this is a sweet deal for me, instead of paying the full price upfront. Hope this helps someone!

    • Dakota

      HSN has been selling Tmobileophones the same way. Seems theyre now turning to shopping networks as the latest sales channels. Of course the hosts never state that the $50 unlimited plans are only 500mb of high speed or there’s no LTE. I heard the HSN guest continually say you can watch as many movies and stream music all day long. Good luck on an Edge connection.. Its an older phone buy HSN had a much lower price on a sg2recently than Tmobile

  • Jimbo Jones

    Can someone explain how paying a down payment for the phone plus a revolving “membership/club fee” isn’t just a subsidy by a new name? I’m interested to see how the pricing is actually implemented and whether the down payment + club costs doesn’t end up costing customers the same in the long run as full price.

  • cnote7

    This could be a great concept IF it’s done right…

  • Eric

    Realistically with the new plans, this is already available. For example, a customer who has a GS3 can trade in their phones right now for 225. If they have been paying on it for a year on the Value plan, then the trade it would cancel their remaining payments and they can put a down payment toward a GS4 for 100 plus tax and their monthly would stay the same as they would be retaining their 20 payments.

    If they do have something where they can do 2 a year though that would be amazing.

  • S. Ali

    Membership Fee + Reduced Down Payment

    Basically it works out to the same as the current pricing, but the “trade-in” part covers the down payment for the next device. Essentially this is like Verizon/ATT early upgrade with trade-ins. Sort of like what HTC did with the HTC One ($100-$300 Credit).

  • Jody Smith

    T-Mobile has a new gimmick every week to make up for their lack of rural high speed data coverage and poor in-building coverage.

    There rates and plans are confusing and add so many variables. They need to stick with something simple that works for everyone.

    Simple and easy is actually a good thing.

    • CRT24

      Really? So having one plan with no overage and all you have to do is pick how much high speed data you want is confusing?

      And everyone pays the same full price for phones is confusing?

      Seems like you are easily confused

    • Dakota

      Distraction. I was in Walmart last week looking at what accessories they had and listening to their employee try to explain to a customer what Tmobile rates were and how buying it in store differs from the Tmobile store. The guy was so utterly confused and walked out

      • D Nice

        Ari it doesn’t make sense but it is true! I went to wal-mart the other day and those suckers are still selling t-mobile phones under contract I DONOT know how this is the case though considering tmo new business model!

        • 21stNow

          Third party retailers still do Classic plans for T-Mobile.

    • malcmilli

      whats hard to understand… pay $60 a month…. if you want a discounted phone then you can pay $77/mo until the phone is paid off… then your bill drops back down to $60/mo…. and they focus on metro areas because that’s where most people actually live…

  • Dakota

    switching Android phones in the pain because most of your stuff that I didn’t get back up. AT&T is having their own announcement next week where they claim they are going to havec the next thing in wireless

    • 21stNow


    • malcmilli

      everything gets back up… it even redownloads only the apps i had installed on my old phone instantly

  • BlackJu

    I’d actually like to see a trade in program, but it should be as flexible as possible. What about stocking used (but certified) and refurbished devices? Think of it as the Game Stop of cell phone stores.

    • That’s actually a fantastic idea. Even if us tech geeks may not want this, every other consumer if the price is right would love to save money to get one. As much as I dislike Gamestop(and boy do I), they make a LOT of money and business.

  • vinnyjr

    Great idea T-Mobile. Being a real SmartPhone Geek, I go thru so many devices over a year’s time. Anything that would help the burden of always upgrading would help. Not only that but it would be good business for T-Mobile, I know many people on other Carriers that may jump to T-Mobile if this was available for the T-Mobile customer. Now let’s get LTE out as fast as we can, that is what will bring new customers that and pushing out their HSPA+ to other markets and boosting the speeds in the slower HSPA markets.

  • Desmond Foucha

    Only thing that will make my day for this announce is if T-Mobile say
    they update there coverage of 3g/4g and more LTE cities thats it.

  • Guest

    can someone confirm that on lte is possible to download and upload simultaneously at max speeds.Hspa+ gives priority on the first request (download or upload at max speed).Second – If there is someone from east bay area , i would be interested if someone can give me some numbers for nexus 4 on lte speed test.Thank you.

    • csr rep

      the nexus 4 is hspa + 21 only not lte . so no #s to give u

      • that’s wrong, the Nexus 4 is HSPA+42 DC. When it was my daily driver I got 20-29Mbps in my area regularly as I do on all my HSPA+42 devices. Of course I have LTE now on my htc One, but its still nice as a fallback.

      • guest

        yeah, don’t be original my english sucks but your intelligence sucks too, i know sooner or later i will speak better.good day sir.

    • Pp

      Actually if rooted the nexus 4 does have Lte. To answer your question I get 25-30 maps down and around 15up.