T-Mobile has been on a mission to shake up the mobile carrier industry. Anyone that deals with it on a daily basis knows how incredibly unfair the actual industry is and how it screws consumers without them knowing it. The real truth is that the mobile industry in the US has primarily been an oligarchy between AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, with T-Mobile being a non-competitor, until this year.
After T-Mobile threw out their old CEO, they replaced him with John Legere. John Legere has had a lot of experience in the telecommunications industry, especially in mobile. I don’t think anyone expected John to push the company into the direction they’ve gone. Sure, T-Mobile has always been the most lenient and considerate carrier when it came to using your own devices and using your data plans the way you see fit, but they were still the same as their competition. In addition to that, T-Mobile’s data speeds and coverage weren’t so hot and many Verizon and AT&T customers were hesitant to switch over without any incentives to compensate for a lack of coverage.
But then T-Mobile launched their UnCarrier campaign with the first step being their elimination of 2 year contracts. What T-Mobile did here was to decouple the price of the phone from the price of the data and voice plans. This meant that if you came to T-Mobile with your own device or paid it off quickly, you saved a lot of money over the long term. Additionally, you would immediately begin to save money once your contract (to pay off the phone) was over. This not only makes the pricing of mobile service more transparent, but it also saves people money if they want to save money.
Following that step, T-Mobile decided that they wanted to continue to disrupt the industry and change the way that consumers get their devices. They did this with their UnCarrier 2.0 JUMP plan, which effectively allows users to change phones once every 6 months for a $10 a month fee, which includes device insurance. People would ultimately end up having to pay the on-contract price of the device plus the $10 a month fee in order to be able to upgrade their phone bi-annually. Sure, this means that you never own the phone, but T-Mobile’s move to introduce the JUMP plan actually sparked ALL of the bigger players to launch similar, more sinister, plans. AT&T’s and Verizon’s plans are flat out rip-offs when compared to T-Mobile’s and actually generate the company significantly more revenue than actually making upgrading phones cheaper and more flexible.
Now, the final chapter in the UnCarrier book is being opened and its a pretty damn big one. T-Mobile has always served as an alternative to AT&T for travelers that come into the US from Europe. Additionally, T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi calling feature has been an incredibly popular feature with many businessmen that want to be able to call to the US internationally, for free. Now, what T-Mobile announced yesterday was essentially another way of throwing their competitors under the bus. They released an international roaming plan, which will not charge T-Mobile customers anything additional in order to use data or SMS internationally in over 100 countries. T-Mobile’s CEO admitted that these charges are an incredibly small part of their revenue and that roaming doesn’t really cost them that much money. So, in order to attract more new customers, T-Mobile is going to try to cater to the international travelers and more importantly, business users and large corporations that want to save money on international roaming charges. Sometimes, these charges can run into the thousands of dollars when data usage is involved.
To be quite honest, this is going to be an awesome plan for someone like me that travels a lot and is constantly jumping between countries. Not having to switch SIM cards or phone numbers would be a godsend and having data on my personal phone all the time for free would be brilliant. If you need to make calls, however, you will have to pay $0.20 per minute to make phone calls, which isn’t really bad at all, but still it isn’t free. In addition to that, T-Mobile’s free international data speeds will be limited to 128 KBps unless you purchase a high speed pack from them. These packs will be offered in single day, week and two week packages with varying data caps. This will fill the need for any international travelers that need to get fast data in small amounts in other countries. For $15, a customer gets a single day’s worth of high-speed data up to 100 megabytes, while $20 gets one week at 200 megabytes and $50 gets two weeks and 500 megabytes. This is partially to prevent people from exploiting loopholes and to make sure that people don’t try to game the system, but it definitely isn’t cheap.
When I looked at the list of countries in the list of over 100 countries, I noticed that one country was surprisingly missing. Croatia, which is where I am currently writing this article from, while connected to none other than T-Mobile HR, which is one of, if not the biggest, carriers in the country. What’s interesting is that I remember myself bitching a few months ago about the fact that I had to go to Croatia and pay for a separate line of service and SIM card for what effectively the same company, simply in a different country. While I’m sure my bitching didn’t influence T-Mobile’s decision, it definitely fits in line with my own understanding of what’s logical and right. I’m really glad to see that T-Mobile is doing this and I can’t wait to see what their next moves might be.