T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere has been busy during the last two years rebuilding the once failing wireless carrier. Today, they are focusing on three strategies. One is bringing the T-Mobile (TMUS) network up to speed. Second is reinventing the brand with an entirely new approach. Third, their heated and sour-mouthed PR strategy. Whether you love them or hate them, T-Mobile is punching their way back onto the map.
Today they launched their latest effort called Un-Carrier 8.0. I guess this is the eighth change they are making to their offerings, with the goal of attracting more users. Apparently this "Un-Carrier" strategy is working. They have been growing over the last year and that’s the bottom line. Un-Carrier 8.0 is their Data Stash or Data Rollover feature. What that means is wireless smartphone customers buy some kind of data plan. If they buy an unlimited plan this new Un-Carrier 8.0 won’t be of interest.
However, if they buy a certain size wireless data plan, Legere says customers are wasting money. He says at the end of the month the customer loses whatever data is unused. This is the plan every wireless carrier currently offers. This new idea let’s customers keep their unused wireless data for up to 12 additional months before it disappears. Great idea. Not perfect, but better.
An Old Idea, Repurposed Through Innovative Leadership
AT&T Mobility (T) introduced a similar idea with unused wireless call minutes several years ago. When customers bought a bucket of minutes of calls, they could keep their unused minutes from month to month. They called it Rollover Minutes. However, these Rollover Minutes didn’t expire after 12 months. The Rollover Minute idea was very popular with AT&T for voice calls, so I expect to see T-Mobile having similar success with wireless data usage.
Will other carriers join them? Well, AT&T never had any other carriers join them in their efforts so I would say no, but we’ll see. This is another way for T-Mobile to attract users. While the feature is not interesting or valuable to all users, some will love it, and they will be the target customers of T-Mobile going forward.
T-Mobile has shown solid growth over the last year or so with this younger and lower budget user group. Legere is very active with Twitter. Traditionally, challengers must offer lower costs to win. In today’s market, AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless (VZ) are the leaders with 34% market share each. Sprint Corporation (S) has 16% market share.
T-Mobile has 15% market share, so they are in the challenger position. That’s good for T-Mobile customers, it means they can expect lower prices. What about quality of service, speed, reach and dropped calls? If you asked that question two years ago the answer would have been sad. Back then, they were still a 2G carrier when AT&T, Verizon and Sprint were rushing to bring 4G to their entire network. However, since Legere stepped in as CEO, T-Mobile has gotten much better.
T-Mobile still has plenty of network to upgrade. They need to speed up and get better reach in many areas, and under the leadership of Legere, they are doing precisely that. So far, it looks like T-Mobile is in a strong recovery mode over the last 12 months. They have not only stabilized the company, but they have grown their customer base and are upgrading their network.
So while they are still in the early stages of their turnaround, it sure looks like they are heading in the right direction. They are creating curiosity and excitement surrounding their recovery. Next I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the next Un-Carrier move will be. Stay tuned.