T-Mobile, With Help From Shakira, About to Shake Up the Industry Again

This evening, T-Mobile will reveal "Un-Carrier Phase 3," its next big move to disrupt the wireless industry. 

T-Mobile is about to throw down its next card.

The nation's fourth-largest carrier has invited the press to an Oct. 9 briefing (followed by a Shakira concert, as though attendance would be an issue) at which it plans to reveal its next big "un-carrier" move."

"Getting ready to shake up the industry, again!!" T-Mobile CEO John Legere Tweeted Oct. 7, making a reference to Shakira—who, he added, will be "amazing."

Several more Tweets making double-duty of the hip-shaking singer and the industry-shaking announcement have since followed.

During the carrier's last earnings call, Legere warned of this moment. "This should drive a bit of fear into the industry: We already know Un-Carrier Phase 3, and we know when it's coming."

T-Mobile's first un-carrier move, arriving not long after Legere joined the company in its lead role and the carrier merged with number-five carrier MetroPCS, was to get rid of two-year contracts—the industry's standard postpaid business model.

In March, it introduced Simple Choice plans and the ability to pay for a device in low, interest-free monthly installments, instead of up front.

"These bold moves serve notice that T-Mobile is canceling its membership in the out-of-touch wireless club," Legere said in a March 26 statement.

Next, in August, it introduced Jump, a $10-per-month offer that buys subscribers the ability to upgrade their devices twice a year (once they've been with the program for six months).

"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," Legere said in an Aug. 10 statement. "That's 730 days of waiting ... or having to live with a cracked screen or an outdated camera. We say two years is just too long."

At a New York City press event the same day, he added that T-Mobile was on a mission to "redefine a stupid, broken and arrogant industry."

The Un-Carrier Moves Are Working

T-Mobile's moves—and its launch of a Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G network—are paying off.

On Aug. 8, T-Mobile announced that it had brought in 1.1 million new customers during its fiscal 2013 second quarter, set a record-low churn rate and additionally led the industry with the highest number of new postpaid customers—685,000.

"We are on a purpose-driven march to solve all customer pain points, change the way this industry operates and create value for our shareholders," Legere said during the call.

"We are determined not to let anyone disrupt our momentum," he continued, in what seemed a dig at rivals that have responded to T-Mobile's moves with copycat offers of their own. "We are not only innovating with our pain-killing customer offers, we are reinventing our business model and have already made over $1 billion in cost structure improvements."

Around 2 p.m. on the East Coast, with the stage constructed in New York's Bryant Park and his big announcement nearing, Legere again Tweeted the tag line from the event: "I wouldn't miss this for the world."

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