T-Mobile has been struggling to position itself not so much as a value carrier, but rather as a carrier that makes it a point not to screw its customers over. To that end, T-Mobile CEO John Legere and CTO Neville Ray unveiled a slew of impressive changes for the magenta-hued carrier, perhaps the biggest of which is the addition of a new phone upgrading scheme.
Here’s the long and short of it: under the new JUMP plan, T-Mobile customers can swap their old phones for new phones twice every 12 months after they’ve been enrolled in the JUMP program for at least six months. You don’t get to keep your original device though — you swing by a T-Mobile store to trade in that old phone (as long as it’s in good condition, that is), and the original monthly payments tied to that phone are wiped clean. JUMP also acts like something of an insurance plan, so if you lose or ruin your phone you just pay a variable deductible (it tops out at about $170) and the process continues as normal.
What’s more, those swapping users will wind up paying the same upfront cost new customers would pay for the same device — T-Mobile’s big thrust here is that users who upgrade their phones should never have to pay more for a new phone than a new customer does. Speaking as someone who has had to defend that practice over years of selling phones that’s a huge deal for consumers, especially considering JUMP will only cost $10 per phone per month once it goes live on July 14.
T-Mobile also announced that it has expanded its LTE network significantly, with service now live in 116 metropolitan markets and covering some 157 million people. And since there can’t be a pronounced LTE push without some hardware to go with it, T-Mobile has also confirmed that it will begin carrying the LTE-friendly Sony Xperia Z and Nokia Lumia 925 on July 17.
As is often the case though, T-Mobile’s big announcement made the rounds a little early — Chris Ziegler at The Verge posted an early peek at the so-called Jump plan hours before T-Mobile CEO John Legere could unveil it himself.
Still, T-Mobile’s move stands in stark contrast to what its competitors have been up to lately — both AT&T and Verizon Wireless rejiggered their contract terms so that users would have to wait a full two years to upgrade their devices, up from the 18-20 month upgrade cycle that’s been the norm for years.
The last time CEO John Legere took the stage at an event in New York, he passionately ranted about what he saw as predatory pricing practices in the wireless industry and implored rival wireless carriers to “stop the bullshit” — I’m not sure anyone expected his rebuke to be that pointed. This time around, event staff set up a slew of creepy dolls propped up in chairs to evoke AT&T’s kid-friendly commercials so Legere could needle his rival for a overly-simplistic view of the market.
“It’s just not getting to the point,” Legere said of AT&T’s ad approach “It’s a lot of say and not a lot of do.”
At this point it’s hard to gauge just how well T-Mobile’s “UnCarrier” push has been working for them since the company’s no-contract scheme wasn’t active for all of the quarter covered in their most recent earnings, but some early indicators seem promising. Postpaid subscriber loss (or churn, in industry parlance), was down to a nearly five year low, and Legere is currently on a tear about why things aren’t as bad as people are making them out to be.
Correction: The post was accidentally published with a speculative draft headline, which was replaced with a more accurate headline to reflect the content of the article.