As T-Mobile Moves to Unlimited Data, Questions Remain: Analysts

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2016-08-18 Print this article Print
T-Mobile, mobile carriers, Verizon, AT&T, data limits, unlimited data, smartphones

Rob Enderle, principal of Enderle Group, said the new T-Mobile unlimited data plans could leave many customers of other carriers looking at the company's offer, but there's a downside, too. "With cable and DSL all-you-can-eat programs, networks have a tendency to saturate and often a small number of heavy users can bring the entire network to its knees. Wireless networks tend to be far more fragile, and I expect an unintended consequence of this could be excessive use by a few bad players and lower overall performance with T-Mobile unless they employ throttling, which folks don't like either."

So until the actual performance of a large number of unlimited users on the T-Mobile network is seen over time, it may be worth waiting before leaving an existing carrier, he wrote. "This is not to say it couldn't be handled well," wrote Enderle. "If just the excessive users are throttled and network performance for the majority remains good then, I expect most of us will be OK with this, but I'd wait and see before jumping ship."

Overall, "T-Mobile remains one of the most disruptive firms I've ever seen and, for the most part, from the standpoint of the consumer, that has been a very good thing," he wrote. "So it is a bold move and a publicity move, but until we know more about the outcome, we can't be sure even T-Mobile can sustain this, let alone anyone else."

The company's Un-carrier initiatives, which it has been unveiling for several years, are designed to show customers that T-Mobile is not a stodgy mobile carrier, which is how the company identifies its key competitors, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. In June, T-Mobile rolled out its Stock Up Un-Carrier 11 move, which offers a free full share of the carrier's common stock to all existing and new customers to thank them for their business, as well as the potential to earn up to 100 free stock shares a year by recommending the company to friends and family members.

T-Mobile's previous Un-carrier events have brought unlimited video streaming, unlimited music streaming, rebates to switch carriers, roll-over monthly data and more for the company's customers. In November 2015, T-Mobile unveiled its then-new Binge-On free unlimited video streaming to all customers who had at least a 3GB monthly data plan.



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