Back in June T-Mobile announced the company would be exempting music services from the company's bandwidth caps
, though users would need to vote on their favorite music service to get it added to T-Mobile's white list. This week T-Mobile added six more music services to that exemption list
: AccuRadio, Black Planet, Grooveshark, Radio Paradise, Rdio and Songza. Google Play Music was the top-voted service, and T-Mobile states they'll be adding that "later this year." While well-intentioned, consumer advocates have criticized T-Mobile's cap exemption for music services (and speed tests
), arguing it creates an unlevel playing field for smaller companies trying to gain recognition.
California this week became the first state in the country to pass a law requiring that cell phones include so-called "kill switch" functionality to deter theft, enabled by default (the full law is here
, pdf). Minnesota passed a similar law earlier this year, but in that version of the law, the functionality is turned off by default.
T-Mobile continues to tinker with data allotments and pricing in the face of a freshly ambitious Sprint
, quadrupling the data allotment on the company's "Simple Starter" plan. According to a T-Mobile announcement
, the company's Simple Starter plan will now provide unlimited talk and text and cost $45 ($5 more) but will deliver 2 GB of data as opposed to the previous 500 MB. On Simple Starter, once you've reached the 2 GB your service is suspended and you'll need to buy a one day, 500 MB day pass for $5, or a 7-day, 1 GB pass for $10. This new higher-allotment version of the plan will be available September 3.
T-Mobile took a shot at Sprint, AT&T and Verizon today with a new promotion that gives the company's Simple Choice plan users unlimited LTE data for a year if they bring another user over to T-Mobile. If the Simple Choice plan users already have unlimited data, users will receive a $10-per-month credit for a year. story continues..
A new report by RootMetrics
effectively declares Verizon the king when it comes to mobile network coverage, reliability, speed, and overall performance. The study, which collected data from 5.6 million test samples while driving some 234,000 miles across the country, gave the crown to Verizon for all metrics except text message performance, which Verizon closely lost to AT&T.
It was just last week that we noted how Sprint CEO Dan Hesse seemed terrified of cutting prices to compete with T-Mobile
, expressing concern that if the company reduces prices -- they by proxy reduce revenues necessary to get the company's LTE network up to snuff. Hesse of course has since been informed he'll be fired from the new CEO spot
, with Sprint also announcing their intention to give up their pursuit of T-Mobile.
Last month we noted
that Sprint and T-Mobile were hoping to join forces and bid under a joint venture company in the FCC's 2015 incentive auction of 600 MHz spectrum. That may not float for the FCC, who in a blog post
stated that the agency is circulating a proposal that would bar such a play.
T-Mobile has announced that the company's implementation of higher-call-quality VoLTE services has been deployed nationwide. According to a company announcement
, the nationwide availability comes just two months after T-Mobile announced their first VoLTE market (Seattle) in May. The company states it is also busy deploying LTE on spectrum acquired from Verizon Wireless earlier this year. "The team has also been aggressively rolling out Wideband LTE, upgrading our remaining 2G footprint to 4G LTE and starting to roll out our new low-band 700 MHz A-Block spectrum," notes Legere. "In fact, in the three months since we got hold of this spectrum, we’ve already begun equipping sites with 700 MHz gear."
Sprint and SoftBank's plan to acquire T-Mobile just got somewhat more complicated on the news that French telco Iliad has made their own counter-offer to acquire the telco. Iliad today announced the company has made a $15 billion cash offer to purchase 56.6 percent of T-Mobile. story continues..
Last month Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the "Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act
(pdf), which aims to make unlocking one's cell phone technically legal again, even if it doesn't fully address the myriad of problems with the DMCA. In January of last year unlocking your cellphone technically became illegal
after the Librarian of Congress removed it from the DMCA exception list.
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.
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