NEW YORK—T-Mobile CEO John Legere on March 26 spelled out, with what's quickly become a trademark mix of frankness and sass, what T-Mobile is now offering and where it's going.
The top executive of the nation's fourth-largest carrier—with an acquisition of fifth-largest carrier MetroPCS in the works—said (again) that current wireless carrier practices have "America angrier than those birds and grumpier than that cat," and T-Mobile is here to "do something different."
Far behind in the 4G Long-Term Evolution race, it has turned on its LTE network in seven markets—Baltimore; Houston; Kansas City; Las Vegas; Phoenix; San Jose, Calif.; and Washington, D.C.— with more on the way. By midyear, T-Mobile plans to cover 100 million people and by year's end, 200 million. And when a user finds herself outside of an LTE area, the speed won't completely fall off, Legere insisted—T-Mobile will also have 200 million people covered with HSPA+.
Other major news: The iPhones are coming. Finally. T-Mobile will begin selling the Apple iPhone 5 April 12. More, it'll be an improved iPhone 5, able to take advantage of more spectrum bands.
"I've been telling you that when the iPhone comes to T-Mobile, it would be different," Legere said. "The experience on this Phone is going to be beautiful from day one."
Chief Marketing Officer Michael Sievert added that T-Mobile's iPhone users will have "50 percent more bandwidth than on AT&T—it's like having an HOV lane."
T-Mobile will also be the only major carrier to offer HD Voice on the iPhone 5. In certain markets, T-Mobile will soon also begin selling the iPhone 4 and 4S.
More news: As of March 26, the carrier is selling the BlackBerry Z10, and coming soon are the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One—all of which will be available at a $99 "out the door" price. That means $99 down and a $20 monthly payment for 20 months.
And here Legere wanted to make perfectly clear what T-Mobile is doing.
He disputed earlier reports that T-Mobile is becoming a prepaid carrier or just dropping the subsidies and spreading out the device costs. What T-Mobile is doing, he said, is separating data plans from device sales, and selling devices for less.
"One of the main things to take away here," he said, "is it's just an amazing deal."
An iPhone 5 for $99 down and $20 a month for 20 months, with a $50 service plan, comes to more than $1,000 less for a comparable plan on AT&T over two years—the length of time AT&T holds subscribers to a contract.