T-Mobile's Prospects Soar as It Fires Up LTE Network, iPhone Sales

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-04-07 Print this article Print

At this point, it appears that the other US carriers are watching to see if they need to get off the contract bandwagon and become “un-carriers” too. I suspect that after a few more months of performance like this from T-Mobile and there will be changes.

But I don’t think that those changes will include a complete dropping of subsidies and contracts by the other carriers except maybe Sprint, which also needs to re-energize itself. What’s more likely to happen is that Verizon Wireless and AT&T will find a way to offer no-contract options similar to what T-Mobile is offering, while continuing to offer subsidized phones for as long as they can milk that cow. If you do the math, a subsidized phone is hugely profitable for those carriers.

So what’s next? Verizon Wireless will have to think of new ways to attack T-Mobile, since the previous “They don’t have LTE” commercials on television won’t work anymore. AT&T may have to develop customer service, since that carrier needs a way to keep customers from departing en masse for T-Mobile where their phones will work fine, the costs are lower and the customer service is better. I suspect we’ll start seeing attack ads from AT&T any time now.

I’m not sure what to say about Sprint. That carrier has so many problems that only a mountain of money from SoftBank will help and it may be a while before there’s much visible improvement. Meanwhile Sprint has enough on its plate that attacking T-Mobile is pretty low on the priority list.

For its part, T-Mobile is going ahead with its acquisition of MetroPCS. The deal has passed through all of the regulatory hoops, but there’s a stockholder lawsuit (isn’t there always?) that might slow things down. When that happens, T-Mobile will start trading in MetroPCS phones for phones that handle GSM and MetroPCS customers will magically become T-Mobile customers.

Farther down the road, T-Mobile will start getting the new Apple devices along with everyone else, so T-Mobile will likely get timely access to the iPhone 5S and iPad 5 when those new models hit the market.

 But T-Mobile will also carry Samsung Galaxy S4 when it comes out. Of course, T-Mobile is planning to have most of the US covered by LTE before the end of the year. You have to wonder who turned on T-Mobile’s afterburners last month. Maybe it was CEO John Legere deciding to exceed expectations. I’ll ask him that question if he grants the interview I’ve requested.


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