Here we go again.
T-Mobile’s John Legere recently announced the latest in his “Un-carrier” program—a new plan that allows customers to upgrade their phones anytime, up to three times per year. This was followed by the Mobile Without Borders plan which extends T-Mobile’s coverage to Canada and Mexico. Un-carrier, Legere claims, is intended to force a change in the way that wireless carriers treat their customers. In this, there is no denying that the program has succeeded in forcing the industry to change. (See below for a timeline of the 11 Un-carrier moves Legere has implemented since March 2013.)
Every time T-Mobile makes one of these dramatic changes, the major competitors follow suit by coming up with their own response, which typically has involved creating some variation of T-Mobile’s offering. T-Mobile advocates point to this continual “upping of the ante” as demonstration of how Legere has differentiated T-Mobile from its competitors and how much these actions have improved the overall wireless communications landscape for the customer.
It would be difficult for anyone to objectively claim that T-Mobile’s Un-Carrier moves are not having significant impacts in the overall wireless marketplace. However, it can be debated whether these moves have improved the industry’s overall customer experience.
I contend that they have not.
It should be noted that while provocative, the Un-Carrier moves are not always made on the offensive. Legere himself admits that the Mobile Without Borders plan was introduced as a defensive response to AT&T’s recent expansion into Mexico. Yet, even in this defensive mode, Legere is quick to point out that in true Un-Carrier fashion, Mobile Without Borders is provided without additional cost to the customer.