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October 10, 2013

T-Mobile (with Shakira!) Continues its Un-Carrier Ways - Makes Overseas Mobile Communications Cheap and Easy

Last night at a concert T-Mobile hosted, featuring Shakira, the company announced a bold, new international calling plan. It also announced the completion of its LTE network in the United States and that Shakira is joining its marketing team - sort of. Shakira will be a "collaborator with T-Mobile and will help spread the word on the new LTE services.”

T-Mobile has certainly proven that its "Un-Carrier" marketing program - along with the fundamental changes in the way it does business and in the way it works with its subscribers (no contracts, easy device purchases and no device lock-ins, and so on) that serves as the foundation for all the marketing - works. Since it launched the carrier has brought back into the fold over 1.1 million new and former subscribers. That underscores success in a very real way. It helps of course that the iPhone is now part of T-Mobile's game.

At a fairly loud event held in New York City last night, the company announced the newest piece to its Un-Carrier strategy. This new piece will likely be considered very welcome news by a great many consumer and business travelers - in fact businesses as a whole with employees that spend time traveling abroad will be particularly happy. Why?

T-Mobile is going to finally take the sting, and that typically exorbitant dollar premium, out of making international voice calls! The company will be eliminating roaming charges of any sort for their Simple Choice Plan and will very simply bill usage at $0.20 per minute for any call made. Further, this isn't going to be a very limited or controlled environment - T-Mobile is rolling this out across 115 countries and destinations. Here is the summary:

  • No need to activate your phone when traveling overseas
  • Unlimited global data and texting at no extra charge
  • Calls back to the U.S. are only 20 cents per minute

Without a doubt this new plans will deliver a big and very welcome financial impact to all of T-Mobile’s business customers that need international voice and data roaming. In fact, there is no doubt that this will drive new business-level subscribers its way and will no doubt drive AT&T Wireless, Verizon Wireless and Sprint to also have to reconsider their international roaming pricing structures. It is a big deal. As well, all those oversees wireless phone companies that are used to collecting up to $100 per temporary subscriber plans from both business and consumer travelers will see substantial drop sin their businesses as well.

All of this is huge for the subscriber - and that is the real value in T-Mobile's Un-Carrier strategies. The model does indeed effectively create tangible dollar-based differences with no loss in quality of service.

Here are some statistics that T-Mobile provides on this market segment:

  • More than half of U.S. mid to large-size businesses have company mandates to reduce their international roaming costs. Over the past three years, almost 50 percent have increased their spending on international roaming and more than one-third are spending an average of $1,001 to $3,500 per user each month for international roaming. (CCMI & Truphone Survey 2013)
  • Among top 5 CIO wireless challenges, 92 percent of CIO respondents said that overall wireless costs were too high and 60 percent of CIOs specifically cited the need address their pain points around the costs associated with international voice and data roaming (Gerson Lehrman CIO survey Nov 2012).
  • The Global Business Travel Assoc. says U.S.-initiated international business trips will grow by 4.2 percent in 2013. (GBTA BTI Outlook – U.S. 2013 Q1, April 9, 2013).

As John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile US, puts it, “International pricing doesn’t have to be the way it’s been. The truth is that the industry’s been charging huge fees for data roaming. But what’s most surprising is that no one’s called them out - until now.” Amen to that!

T-Mobile has also announced that its latest-generation 4G LTE network is now completely nationwide, and now reaches more than 200 million people in 233 metros across the United States. The company has actually completed the service months ahead of schedule. The new nationwide 4G LTE adds to T-Mobile's nationwide 4G HSPA+ network, which should mean subscribers will see one very fast combined 4G network experience.

T-Mobile claims that in recent third-party tests its new 4G LTE nationwide network delivered faster speeds than the 4G LTE networks of Verizon and Sprint. In addition, T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network already has faster median speeds than AT&T’s 4G LTE network in 10 of the top 20 metropolitan statistical areas. In fact, T-Mobile’s new nationwide LTE network delivers 4G LTE speeds more consistently than any of the national providers. Of course we'll have to see what the grass roots users report back, but for T-Mobile is should never the less deliver additional momentum to its new found growth trajectory.

Meanwhile, Shakira herself - who of course ties together the "international" flavor of the overall announcement, noted, “Today is all about bringing the world closer together. I’m excited to partner with T-Mobile and look forward to being able to share my music in new and innovative ways.” Of course that also means sharing her image. Below is the one T-Mobile has chosen to use as part of the announcement.

As part of the relationship, T-Mobile will support Shakira’s upcoming single and album releases to create "unique" T-Mobile customer experiences. T-Mobile is breaking the traditional sponsorship mold and creating a unique partnership where the company and the artist will work together to help amplify key messages and initiatives for each other, which will also include a select number of special events for the public and exclusive fan engagement activities.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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