T-Mobile Announces Jump Upgrade Program

T-Mobile unveiled its "boldest moves yet" to release customers from restrictive two-year device contracts.

NEW YORK—Following its shift to contract-free cellular plans in March, T-Mobile announced during a press event here its latest efforts to further the company's "un-carrier" approach to wireless communications.

On March 25, the company unveiled a contract-free smartphone plan with unlimited talking, texting and 500MB of 4G data (subject to slowdowns after that limit is hit). On July 10 T-Mobile CEO John Legere took to the stage to announce a new program called Jump and a major expansion of the company's 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network.

T-Mobile has been setting out to "redefine a stupid, broken and arrogant industry," said Legere in an address delivered to press and analysts. Riffing on AT&T's kindergartener series of television ads, the outspoken CEO indicated that his company's approach is resonating with customers. "Our churn is lower than it's ever been," he added.

Later, CTO Neville Ray, with the help of T-Mobile girl Carly Foulkes, symbolically "lit up" the company's expanded 4G LTE network. The event, suggested Ray, symbolized the "dramatic change that we're delivering on the network from T-Mobile U.S." The bigger network, due in part to the incorporation of MetroPCS' spectrum, now reaches 157 million people in 116 networks, surpassing the company's goal of reaching 150 million people by July 1, he said.

Legere retook the stage, saying that his company was attacking "the single most offensive wireless practice." Namely, locking customers into two-year device contracts, restricting their device choices and limiting their upgrade options.

T-Mobile's push to change the practice is called Jump, a $10-per- month subscription that allows customers to upgrade their mobile phones up to twice a year after an initial six-month enrollment period. Additionally, it doubles as a device protection plan that covers lost, stolen or damaged devices. The rate, boasted T-Mobile, is a mere $2 more than competing device protection plans.

T-Mobile plans to publicize Jump with a series of television ads starring "Saturday Night Live" alum Bill Hader and a social contest called #Hate2Wait. Jump will become available on Sunday, July 14. Customers under the Simple Choice plan are eligible. Users under other plans will be able to subscribe for a limited time.

"At some point, big wireless companies made a decision for you that you should have to wait two years to get a new phone for a fair price. That's 730 days of waiting. 730 days of watching new phones come out that you can't have," Legere said in a company statement.

"We say two years is just too long to wait. Today, we're changing all that with the launch of Jump Now, [and] customers never have to worry about being stuck with the wrong phone," he added.

T-Mobile also announced the launch of a new four-line family plan, with unlimited talk, texting and 500MB of 4G data. The Family Option plan requires no credit checks or contracts.

Finally, the carrier announced that it will be the exclusive launch partner of Sony's Xperia Z. The sleek, waterproof Android-powered handset, which made a splash at CES 2013, will be available from T-Mobile for $99.99 down starting July 17 or as of July 10 at 38 select U.S. Sony Store locations.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...