T-Mobile (TMUS) US issued an update at the end of 2016 about where they are and where they are heading. If you listened through the insults to their competitors, you can find good news for the carrier. They should be celebrating their victories. Instead, they keep taking our eyes off the ball with all the boring, competitor bashing chit-chat. So, let me say congrats to T-Mobile. Based on their performance and behavior, I want to both pat them on the back for a great year and wash their mouth out with soap.
Remember, it has only been a few short years since T-Mobile was dying on the vine. Missing the move from 2G to 3G, they were losing customers faster than sand slips through your fingers on the beach. Then they brought in John Legere as CEO and he boldly started to go where no wireless carrier went before. He started to change the T-Mobile direction.
Watching T-Mobile Recovery Like Watching Hot Dogs Being Made
It took them time to invest in and improve their network, and they started talking about how good it was way before it was. At the same time, they were the loud and obnoxious kid on the playground, kicking sand in everyone’s face. Trying to knock everyone else down to their level, instead of building themselves up like they should.
It was a pretty uncomfortable place for them to be, but they seemed to love all the attention they were getting, so they kept pounding the sand. What’s the old saying about PR? Let them say whatever they want, positive or negative, as long as they spell your name correctly. That’s what it was like watching T-Mobile in their early years of recovery. It was like a hot dog being made. Good to eat, but you really don’t want to watch it being made.
T-Mobile Improvement Rolls On in 2017
But through all that distracting noise, something has been happening over the last few years. T-Mobile has been on a recovery track and their growth has been impressive. There are plenty of problems they have to wrestle with, like limited wireless data spectrum. However, that is not stopping them from changing the rules to fit their situation.
For example, they launched their limited spectrum wireless video service. They got plenty of pushback from competitors, analysts and the media, but they said the average customer doesn’t need that much data on a small screen like their smartphone or tablet. And apparently, they were right. Customers seem to like this service and in fact other competitors seem to be heading in the same direction.
With competitors, users who need the spectrum, can get it. But users who would rather save money can do that too. So, the lemons that T-Mobile had, they turned into lemonade. And that created a new service for the industry. Not bad at all.
T-Mobile Year End Report: LTE and 5G
Their end of year report basically said they are getting ready for the 5G world, but that is still down the road. In the meantime, they are continuing to build and expand their LTE.
When I ask their users, they say that T-Mobile coverage and speed has shown real improvement over the last several years and they love the lower prices. They also say while the speed is often very fast in some locations, speed and reach still need to improve in other locations.
Neville Ray, CTO says they are continuing to improve the service and expand LTE. He also says 5G will be very exciting with all the new services they will introduce. But he say’s we should have patience. We’ll be talking about 5G for the next few years, but don’t expect services in the market yet.
So, bottom line, congratulations to T-Mobile on their improvement so far. They are heading in the right direction and I hope things keep getting better and faster and their network reach keeps getting larger. I only wish they would act like grown-ups rather than teenagers with a bad attitude regarding their public relations. Their foul-mouthed approach is getting old.
Anyway, here’s to a great 2017 for every wireless competitor and user! I am getting the sense this is going to be a very good year for everyone in the wireless world. So Happy New Year to all!
Jeff Kagan is an Equities.com columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst, speaker and consultant. He follows wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, Mobile Pay, FinTech and communications technology. Email him at [email protected]. His web site is www.jeffKAGAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan