T-Mobile states that they've turned on "wideband" 15x15 MHz channels in Las Vegas, making the city one of seventeen markets where the improved capacity and faster speeds are now available. "We have more capacity per customer than any other major national U.S. wireless carrier plus we continue to offer the fastest nationwide 4G LTE in the U.S. and deliver the most consistent LTE speeds," crows the uncarrier in a press release
. For these markets T-Mobile combines their AWS spectrum acquired from MetroPCS to offer theoretical peak download speeds up to 110 Mbps and theoretical peak upload speeds of 38 Mbps.
Last fall as part of the company's "uncarrier" brand strategy, T-Mobile announced
that the company would be offering their users free data roaming while travelling internationally -- albeit it EDGE (2G) speeds. While EDGE (128 kbps or so) speeds may turn off many, T-Mobile states that fewer than 1% of the 2 million people who have used a Simple Global Plan
have opted to upgrade to a higher-speed option -- suggesting 2G's fast enough for most.
Not too surprisingly, when you offer free international texting, free EDGE data and calls at the flat rate of 20 cents per minute, people take you up on your offer:
A survey T-Mobile released last month found that, since the implementation of its new roaming strategy, its customers have called three times as much when abroad, texted seven times more often, and used 28 times more data than they did previously. What's more, 53% more of its customers now roam on cellular in supported countries than before it unveiled the plans.
Of course when your option is free 2G connectivity or spending big bucks on what are frequently absurd overseas data roaming rates, it's little surprise users make due with EDGE speeds.
In a note to investors this week, top telecom analyst Craig Moffett claims that the T-Mobile Sprint merger has less than 10% chance
of seeing regulatory approval. "Approving all three would be untenable for the left," Moffet says of the Comcast/Time Warner Cable, AT&T/DirecTV and Sprint/T-Mobile mega-M&A trifecta.
While consumers clearly love T-Mobile's more aggressive, consumer friendly policies and pricing, I've seen more than a few people in the industry quietly wonder if T-Mobile CEO John Legere isn't just playing a cartoon character
with the express purpose of helping sell T-Mobile to SoftBank. After all, they argue, while Legere's mocking of AT&T on Twitter
provides great comedy, he seemed to be a different human being entirely during his time at AT&T or as CEO of Global Crossing (and Asia Global Crossing, a SoftBank joint venture).
) T-Mobile's overseas owner Deutsche Telekom is very close to agreeing with SoftBank on a deal that would combine both Sprint and T-Mobile. A report in Reuters
originally claimed the deal was completed, according to anonymous industry sources speaking to the Kyodo news agency.
Verizon's recently quarterly earnings
suggests that the company is definitely feeling T-Mobile's price competition, with a 20% postpaid subscriber growth rate year over year and a slowdown in quarterly adds that went beyond what most analysts expected. Still, most of Verizon's price responses to T-Mobile have been modest at best, and Verizon CFO Fran Shammo states that you shouldn't expect the company to seriously respond to T-Mobile pricing anytime soon
"We will react rationally and where we think we need to react," Shammo said at the Jefferies Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. "The key to any competitive move is not to overreact to a competitor. "I guess you could accuse us of not moving fast enough," he said, but he added that Verizon needs to take measured moves "because once you make the move you can't go back."
Verizon's large enough, and dominates so much of the retail and special access market (not to mention their spectrum holdings) that the company knows T-Mobile's disruption can only go so far
. Still, Verizon's long-standing belief that their network quality and coverage is simply so superior the company doesn't have to compete on price -- is pretty clearly going to be tested.
AT&T CFO John Stephens this week stated that AT&T would be "surprised" if the government allowed Sprint to acquire T-Mobile so soon after the government blocked AT&T's attempted takeover of the company. "It would be interesting to see if the government varies from that," Stephens told attendees of this week's Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference
, adding that he would be "surprising today if they changed or reversed that opinion." AT&T this week also stated they've temporarily shelved their overseas expansion ambitions, though they failed to mention that a big part of that is European regulators' discomfort at the telco's close relationship to the NSA
While AT&T has been winning most of the recent LTE speed tests
, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray has recently been promising that will soon change. The company is in the process of migrating to 2x10MHz channels to speed up LTE connectivity, and early indications were that they were starting to nip at AT&T's heels in terms of speed, after spending the last few months hitting AT&T in terms of pricing.
T-Mobile recently announced they'd be paying families' ETFs if they were willing to switch from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint to T-Mobile (though AT&T tried to take the bloom off the rose with a pre-emptive announcement of their own
). Now T-Mobile says they're expanding the program to include other carriers. The company tells Re/Code
that they'll soon offer the credit to customers under contract at dozen of smaller carriers. "This is not just a promotion," T-Mobile marketing chief Mike Sievert says of the company's promotion. "What we are trying to do is bring an end to unfair one-way onerous contracts in this country."
The purchase will not impact Verizon Wireless coverage as it's unused (hoarded) spectrum in the 700 megahertz band. It will expand T-Mobile's footprint and coverage, as the licenses cover about 150 million people, including major areas such as New York and Los Angeles. It'll cost about 3.3 billion dollars, plus estimated costs of 1 billion to integrate and deploy the spectrum.
The deal is expected to close around midyear, and is subject to regulatory approval.
Sprint isn't the only company considering an acquisition of T-Mobile in 2014
. According to an exclusive Reuters
report, Dish is also considering a possible acquisition of the disruptive magenta-hued carrier sometime next year. Several sources tell Reuters Dish hasn't entirely decided on a bid, but "does not intend to sit on the sidelines if Sprint does bid for T-Mobile." Dish is on the heels of failed acquisition bids of both Sprint and Clearwire, and has long expressed interest in running their own LTE network. Their acquisition attempt would be more likely to pass regulatory scrutiny since it wouldn't be eliminating one of the major four wireless carriers.
Verizon is close to nearing a deal that would involve selling the company's lower 700 MHz A Block spectrum to T-Mobile. According to Bloomberg
, the deal, which is expected to be made official sometime this week, will net T-Mobile enough additional spectrum to cover an estimated 150 million people. Verizon paid $2.4 billion for its A Block licenses, and acquiring companies would obviously need to pay that or more for Verizon to part with it. T-Mobile scraped together $3.8 billion in debt and stock sales last month specifically to pay for the acquisition, which will primarily bolster existing LTE markets.
Back in April, wireless carriers and the government announced
that they'd be collaborating on building a new nationwide database to track stolen phones (specifically the IMEI number, not just the SIM card ID). The goal is to reduce the time that stolen phones remain useful, thereby drying up the market for stolen phones and reducing the ability of criminals to use the devices to dodge surveillance.
T-Mobile chief financial officer Braxton Carter this week told Reuters
that a T-Mobile merger with Sprint would be an excellent idea. "We think it's not a question of if but when that there's further consolidation in our industry," Carter told public attendees of the Goldman Sachs Communacopia investor conference this week in New York. Speaking privately to Reuters, Carter then called a Sprint T-Mobile pairing the "the logical ultimate combination."
Regulators likely won't agree, having recently preserved four competitors by blocking the T-Mobile AT&T merger, though Carter insists that the two smaller companies merging would "create a more competitive environment" by posing a bigger threat to AT&T and Verizon.
directs our attention to some changes in T-Mobile's pricing and tethering policies that may save you a buck. Previously, T-Mobile users needed to shell out an additional $20 if they wanted unlimited smartphone data and 500 MB of tethered data, $30 for 2.5 GB of tethering data, or $40 for 4.5 GB of additional tethering data. Now, customers can pay an additional $20 for 2.5GB of tethering ($10 less), $30 for 4.5 GB ($10 less) or choose a new 6.5GB tethering option for $40. Granted rooted, VPN-using customers for whom data is just data probably find this amusing, but it's still some cost savings for those on stock devices.
Back in May AT&T launched AIO Wireless
, a new prepaid brand that tries to distance itself from AT&T's more traditional (and for some, disliked) corporate image. Part of the brand overhaul includes a website
that features adorable fonts, cozy wood grained backdrops, and occasionally the color magenta.
Outraged over this purportedly diabolical transgression, T-Mobile has filed a lawsuit against AT&T
, claiming that AT&T is intentionally trying to confuse customers by using T-Mobile's familiar hue:
"AT&T’s subsidiary’s use of magenta to attract T-Mobile customers is likely to dilute T-Mobile’s famous magenta color trademark, and to create initial interest [and] confusion as to the source or affiliation of AT&T’s subsidiary’s business..."
This isn't the first time T-Mobile has gotten sue happy over what they believe is their
color, having threatened to sue Engadget back in 2008
for daring to use the color in a mobile website font.
It kind of went without saying given the recent launch of MetroPCS's BYOD program
, but T-Mobile says that their migration of MetroPCS users to the T-Mobile network is well ahead of their planned schedule
. It has been less than two months after the ink was dry on the deal, and the company is already speeding along with their plan to shut down the MetroPCS CDMA network, use that network for LTE deployment, then continue running MetroPCS as a prepaid brand. "The moment that NYSE bell rang on May 1, we put it into high gear and hit the gas," insists T-Mobile CEO John Legere.
Confirming the rumblings from last week
, MetroPCS today launched their new bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program that allows users to bring their GSM-based Android phones and iPhones to the MetroPCS network. According to the MetroPCS website
, this new BYOD program is currently only available in Dallas, Las Vegas, Hartford and Boston. MetroPCS is allowing users to access the T-Mobile network this week, and MetroPCS plans to begin selling the Samsung Galaxy Exhibit and the LG Optimus L9 (both GSM/HSPA+ devices). Interested users can check if their phone is eligible for the BYOD option here
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