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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