I wanted to meet with T-Mobile at CES to see what their plans were now that they were not going to be purchased by AT&T. If you read my earlier post you see that T-Mobile is expanding their HSPA+ coverage, rolling out new devices, and focusing their message on the value that they bring to the table. These are all solid approaches, but I personally think there are more things that T-Mobile can do to remain a competitive wireless carrier and maybe even move up into the third position.
As posted by TMoNews.com T-Mobile's Philip Humm is focused on retaining customers and has some ideas in mind. Some of the plan was revealed, but there is a lot of marketing talk in it without too many real details. Here are five recommendations I have for T-Mobile to keep their current customers happy and even bring more people to their network:
- Shared family data: Verizon has been talking about this, but no carrier has yet to come up with a data plan that is modeled after the shared minute plans. If carriers can do it for minutes, why can't they do it for data? I understand they are making nice profits off of us with required data plans on smartphones, but requiring individual data plans for each phone on a family plan is a bit ridiculous. I have five phones on T-Mobile, but only mine and my wife's have data since I cannot stomach another $60 to $90 per month for reasonable data limits on three more phones. I would pay a reasonable fee for a block of data that we could all share and manage ourselves.
- Notification to primary account holder before ANY account actions are taken: I previously wrote about the questionable policy change T-Mobile rolled out for new data charges and was disappointed in their actions since I have always had excellent customer service over the last 10 years. The problem was that they sent text messages to my daughter's phones without informing me and enabled data without my consent. I recommend T-Mobile initiate a policy where NO actions or changes are made on an account without the express permission of the primary account holder.
- Remove upgrade fee: T-Mobile currently charges customers $18 to upgrade their phones. What is this mystery fee for, just pure profit? I recommend that T-Mobile at least do away with the fee for long time (say 5+ years) customers to help reduce churn and encourage upgrades.
- Loyal customer upgrade bonuses: T-Mobile (like most carriers) let's you get the benefit of the full subsidy to upgrade your phone once every two years. However, the mobile space moves super fast today and some of us phone geeks would like to upgrade more often (say every 6 months to a year) so it would be great if T-Mobile could offer long time customers more subsidy incentives to upgrade and continue to extend their contract. Shoot, if I could get a full subsidy every year I would probably sign a 5 year contract since I am very happy with T-Mobile and have no plans to leave anyway.
- Work with Apple to get the iPhone on their network: I have an iPhone 4S on Verizon, but if T-Mobile had the iPhone both my wife and I would have one on T-Mobile. Even though T-Mobile is the smallest of the four major carriers in the U.S., I would think that they could sell at least 1 million iPhones to their approximate 33 million subscribers, and likely much more than that. The issue that prevents the current iPhone from working with T-Mobile is a technical one related to the 1700 MHz frequency T-Mobile uses for data, but Nokia and Samsung (Galaxy Nexus) have made penta-band smartphones that work around the world and on T-Mobile USA so why can't Apple do the same?
Do you agree with these recommendations? What other ideas do you have for making T-Mobile a more attractive and competitive wireless carrier?
UPDATE (Recommendation to partner with Truphone): One of you made a comment below (mc40638) about international travel options and in the past I have used T-Mobile in Mexico to make quick calls home at fairly reasonable rates. I think a very cool option would be for T-Mobile to partner up with someone like Truphone and offer a Tru SIM service. There could be major benefits to customers even if T-Mobile just created a partnership where they would promote the Tru SIM service and give customers such a SIM to use overseas. It would be great if customers could have their Tru SIM reloaded through their T-Mobile online account too. I doubt such a great deal would happen though since carriers get major bucks with overseas roaming, but if the customer experience truly is the priority then this would be a great strategy for travelers.
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