T-Mobile ( Chart TMUS - $143.81 1.02 (0.714%) ) was so focused on being first in the race to 5G wireless data, they seem to have forgotten another important piece of the puzzle… voice. Many of their users are experiencing voice service problems. Fortunately, this is something that can be fixed, but it will take time and even their own executives realize it should never have happened in the first place.
This is not the first time this problem has raised its ugly head. During the recent earnings call, they admitted that while they focused hard on being first and fastest with 5G, voice just slipped their mind.
Neville Ray, President of Technology at T-Mobile has been with the company through the ups and downs, and the thick and thin. He is a talented and valuable executive leading the company from the dark times of a decade ago to the glory days of today.
During the earnings call, he said — in jest! — we always forget to bring voice along when we upgrade to the next generation of wireless service. He said they have done the same thing several times in the past.
The problem is, users are now experiencing voice problems. It’s worse for some than others, but it should never have occurred for anyone. And it could harm the company’s brand relationship with customers and the wider marketplace.
The issue is that voice has different needs — more immediate requirements — compared to data. Every syllable needs to be carried as it is said. Otherwise, customers get poor voice quality, and the brand suffers damage.
Data calls are more lenient to delays. It just takes another moment for the data session to be completed and no one notices. However, voice needs an always-on, immediate connection with no latency.
And it will take time to remedy.
The issue has to do with all the different wireless technology used by T-Mobile, plus the fact they acquired Sprint and had to deal with migrating all their technology as well. Their mad dash to be first in 5G apparently created a blind spot.
5G voice is available in several markets around the United States, but T-Mobile still has a long road and a lot of work ahead of it. This was expected, but it is a long process. It’s up to each network to make sure they protect their quality and their brand from damage during the transition from one generation to the next.
In addition, this voice problem is not a quick fix. While some users in some market areas could see rapid improvement, others may take much longer.
This issue could have the unfortunate result in tarnishing and damaging the T-Mobile brand. A strong brand that they have built over the last decade during their recovery. Another concern is their competitors will use this in their marketing and advertising to win back market share they lost in recent years to T-Mobile.
Market share moves. In recent years it moved away from Verizon ( Chart VZ - $38.48 0.48 (1.263%) ) and AT&T ( Chart T - $19.00 0.28 (1.496%) ) to T-Mobile. It could also move back just as easily and quickly.
Bottom line, I believe this is a problem that will be remedied. However, it will take time. And that time will give the damage time to grow.
This problem could have been avoided. It should have been avoided. This is a self-created issue for T-Mobile. So, their executives need to make sure to fix it ASAP, and make sure it never happens again as the wireless world continues to move forward to 6G and beyond.
Jeff Kagan, a telecom, technology and wireless industry analyst and consultant, is an Equities.com columnist. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at JeffKagan.com, and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.
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