T-Mobile: Scrappy moves, but turnaround elusive

T-Mobile: Scrappy moves, but turnaround elusive

Summary: T-Mobile is being scrappy and trying to lure unlocked iPhones to its network. Combined with the marketing of its network and unlimited data plans, T-Mobile likes the underdog role.

TOPICS: Telcos, Networking

T-Mobile's subscriber statistics aren't so great, J.D. Power pans the company and it's the lone carrier among the big four in the U.S. without Apple's iPhone. But give T-Mobile credit for being scrappy.


First, T-Mobile tried to offset the perception that its network stinks. New commercials and pitches at mall kiosks have made headway there. Then, T-Mobile pitched its unlimited data plans. And now T-Mobile is trying to lure iPhone users from other networks who have let their contracts expire.

Ultimately, T-Mobile's subscribers and growth will determine whether the carrier has been successful, but for now the company seems to be relishing its underdog role---not that it has much of a choice.

In a blog post, T-Mobile noted:

T-Mobile has been a champion of “bring your own device” wireless with our affordable Value plans that separate the cost of wireless service from the purchase of a new phone. This means there are a lot of devices running on our network that we don’t sell in our stores, including more than 1M iPhones. We see a big opportunity to make the experience of bringing an unlocked iPhone to T-Mobile even better for customers.

The main pitch here is that T-Mobile is arguing that it'll save users $50 a month over AT&T, which happened to want to acquire its smaller rival. T-Mobile will also pitch unlimited data plans and "nationwide coverage that's only getting better."

On that latter point, T-Mobile is arguing that its HSPA+ network beats AT&T's on iPhone download speeds. There's a reason that T-Mobile is targeting AT&T: The two carriers operate on the GSM standard so switching is easier for customers. Sprint and Verizon iPhones won't work on T-Mobile's network.

There are a few catches to note, however. Roger Cheng at CNET noted that T-Mobile will have to offer 2G to unlocked phones in many parts of the U.S. Meanwhile, 4G availability is sketchy on T-Mobile.


The comparison for T-Mobile here is Sprint's turnaround. Sprint was known for crappy customer service, but then corrected the issues over time. Sprint also landed the iPhone at a hefty cost to fill its network. It remains to be seen if T-Mobile can pull off a turnaround like Sprint, but it's off to a good start---at least based on perception and marketing. The financials are still stacked against T-Mobile. 


Topics: Telcos, Networking

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  • network is fine, customer service is going downhill fast

    Make sure you can afford to replace a device out of pocket when they download an update to you and it bricks your phone. Happened to me recently. My HTC HD7 is now a paperweight. T-mobile verified no physical damage.
    T-mobile online support:
    I m sorry to hear about the device. I double checked with HTC and yes unfortunately it is a dead device.Are you past your 1 year warranty? Do you have the insurance bundle?
    Let us know and we can look at other options

    me:The phone is 18 months old and does not have insurance. Since the local t-mobile store verified no shock or water damage, did HTC have any explanation? Any recommendations other than finish out my contract and find a new carrier in January?

    T-mobile support:The other option at this point is to contact HTC, they should be able to reflash the software.

    HTC Repair Program 1-888-617-1113
    HTC Out of Warranty Repair
    This is for customers who have devices with physical or liquid damage are no longer in warranty. This number is not for troubleshooting support or assistance.

    So it went from "dead device" to "contact HTC". If HTC has a shot at fixing it then he should not have said "dead device" in the first reply. You cannot fix dead. I left AT&T for T-mobile over 10 years ago because the customer support at AT&T was non-existent. Now T-mobile is closing the gap
    • heh, heh, yeah those android updates can be finickey

      It happened to the Droid Bionic phones too.

      I guess MS isnt the only one having upgrade issues.
      • Android?

        He had an HD7, which is Windows Phone!

        I had a 7 Mozart, which bricked with an update. T-Mobile swapped it out for a new device the next day. When my 3GS died, T-Mobile sent it back to Apple and I had to go 6 weeks without a phone until Apple eventually admitted it was defective and replaced it.

        (T-Mobile in its home market, Germany. They were the only official carrier of the iPhone at that time.)
  • Not surprising

    T-mobile coverage isn't very good outside of very dense populations, but their customer service is horrible.

    Their no contract prices are the most competitive among carriers.... for a reason.
    • beg to differ

      T-mobile customer service has come down but it is still pretty good. If you stick with the company for a long time they often give you bigger breaks. You just have to ask for them. The coverage is pretty comparable to other carriers. Northern Maine is going to have sketchy reception no matter who go with.
      Turd Furgeson
  • AT&T unlocks

    If AT&T doesn't unlock your iPhone so you can switch to T-Mobile, you can use UnlockStreak activations for iTunes, which basically turns iTunes into iPhone unlock software. The UnlockStreak activation is executed through iTunes and does a permanent unlock just like the unlock from AT&T.
  • T Mobile is absolutely horrible

    I left AT&T to join T-Mobile hoping the merger would leave me grandfathered in with T-Mobile's lower rates. Then the merger fell apart. Oopsies.

    I have a T-Mobile branded (built by HTC) MyTouch 4G Slide. T-Mobile support consists of:
    A) restart the phone
    B) do a hard restart of the phone
    C) do a factory reset of the phone
    D) buy a better phone from us

    I have yet to have a single technical support issue solved by T-Mobile technical support. As soon as my device warranty expires, I'll root the phone and install CyanogenMod. As soon as my contract expires, I'm moving to another phone company.
    Marc Jellinek
  • I Guess You’d Say ...

    ... more scooby than scrappy, then.