10 Things T-Mobile Has Done to Move Out of the Giant Telecoms' Shadow

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2016-12-09
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    10 Things T-Mobile Has Done to Move Out of the Giant Telecoms' Shadow
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    10 Things T-Mobile Has Done to Move Out of the Giant Telecoms' Shadow

    T-Mobile has used a variety of innovative business moves and customer services to outflank its giant telecom competitors, including stalwarts AT&T and Verizon.
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    A Single Number to Rule Them All
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    A Single Number to Rule Them All

    T-Mobile’s most recent announcement was the unveiling of Digits, a service that will allow users to have a single number on any device they own. Digits also will facilitate a user’s ability to put multiple numbers on a single device, breaking from the tradition of one phone having one number. Digits is currently in beta, but if it makes its way to all T-Mobile customers, it could represent a big change for the industry.
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    The Rapid Rise of Extended Range LTE
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    The Rapid Rise of Extended Range LTE

    T-Mobile has been deploying Extended Range LTE rapidly across the United States. The technology, which offers better connectivity for those who are far from a cell tower, is now available to 240 million people across the United States and soon will be covering more than 270 million people. T-Mobile says it will continue to invest in its Extended Range LTE so it can deliver the service to customers across the country.
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    T-Mobile Touts 4G LTE
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    T-Mobile Touts 4G LTE

    T-Mobile was a little slow to the 4G LTE game. In fact, three years ago, the company had no LTE (not to be confused with the longer-distance Extended Range LTE) coverage across the United States. However, T-Mobile has been investing heavily in expanding LTE coverage and matching AT&T and Verizon, which both have blanketed the country. As of September 2016, T-Mobile’s LTE network covered nearly 312 million people. Look for that number to grow in the coming months.
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    Freebies are Everywhere
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    Freebies are Everywhere

    To attract customers to its service, T-Mobile has made the somewhat surprising decision over the last several months to offer freebies and buy-one-get-one deals on popular handsets including Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s smartphones. The move has paid off, according to T-Mobile, and the company has added new customers by offering those deals. T-Mobile offered similar free offers on Black Friday and, given their success, might continue to deliver such deals in the coming year.
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    T-Mobile Finds Its Way to the Car
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    T-Mobile Finds Its Way to the Car

    T-Mobile in November announced it was getting into the connected car business with a new SyncUp Drive device. The hardware connects to a person’s car and acts as an in-vehicle WiFi Hotspot, as well as providing users diagnostic information about their cars. The release was a not-so-subtle attempt by T-Mobile to take on Verizon, which has been generating significant revenue in the car business for years.
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    It Took a Risk with Service to Cuba
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    It Took a Risk with Service to Cuba

    After the United States eased tensions with Cuba, T-Mobile responded. In October, the company announced it would allow for calling, texting and data to be used while customers are in Cuba. The service comes at a steep price—talk time is $2 a minute—but it illustrated a broader desire on T-Mobile’s part to think outside the box and take some risks on markets that might prove fruitful in the future.
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    It's Aiming at Being First
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    It's Aiming at Being First

    To break away from far more powerful competition, T-Mobile has tried to deliver big firsts over the last several years. In June 2007, for instance, the company was the first carrier in the United States to launch WiFi calling. It delivered the first HD voice service in 2013. More recently, T-Mobile’s “firsts” have come in the form of service: In September, the company was the first to offer faster multi-in, multi-out wireless connectivity, called 4x4. In October, T-Mobile became the first carrier to deploy AWS-3 for additional spectrum on calls, text and data.
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    T-Mobile Adopted Unlimited Service Plans
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    T-Mobile Adopted Unlimited Service Plans

    T-Mobile took aim at tiered data plans earlier this year with the announcement of T-Mobile One, which brings back unlimited everything—talk, text and data—to customers. In a statement, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said his company is going “all-in on unlimited,” adding that he believes “the era of the data plan is over.”
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    CEO John Legere Isn't Shy About Criticizing Giant Competitors
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    CEO John Legere Isn't Shy About Criticizing Giant Competitors

    Part of T-Mobile’s success in recent years has been its willingness to take the fight to competitors. With each release and nearly every ad it puts out, the company compares its service to Verizon, Sprint and AT&T. T-Mobile CEO John Legere also hasn’t been shy about sharing his vision and why he believes his company is better than the competition. Judging by T-Mobile’s customer growth, which has been quite strong, that approach seems to be working.
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    T-Mobile Plans to Invest in 5G Wireless
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    T-Mobile Plans to Invest in 5G Wireless

    Looking ahead, T-Mobile is planning to invest in 5G wireless. The company said in a statement in September that it’s testing the ultra-fast wireless connection and said that, unlike AT&T and Verizon, it has a “vision” for using 5G to “transform the mobile internet and deliver amazing breakthroughs.” The technology, which is still years off, could be used to connect an ever-growing number of internet of things devices, as well as self-driving cars.
 

With approximately 70 million subscribers, T-Mobile isn’t the biggest or the most profitable wireless carrier in the United States. But over the past couple of years, it’s arguably been the most innovative carrier—or, at least that’s the image it tries to project, calling itself the “Un-Carrier.” This marketing approach has actually done well for T-Mobile. Under the Un-Carrier banner, the company has eliminated early termination fees on some plans and made it easier for customers to consume data without worrying about excessive use charges. T-Mobile also has offered aggressive deals on popular smartphone models and made a splash when it announced it would support calling in Cuba. Its 4G LTE expansion has been nothing short of astounding, going from zero markets to hundreds in just a few years. T-Mobile is still considerably smaller than Verizon and AT&T, but it’s making meaningful changes in the mobile marketplace. This slide show will discuss some of the things the mobile service provider has done to reinvent itself and the industry.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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