LAS VEGAS — T-Mobile is trying to shake up the wireless industry again.
At a press event here Thursday during the CES electronics show, John Legere, CEO of the self-proclaimed “Uncarrier,” announced the company will simplify its rate plans and the bills it sends out to customers. It also plans to reward customers who are frugal in their data usage by reducing their next month’s bills.
T-Mobile’s mission is to “drag the industry kicking and screaming into the future and force them to change,” Legere said.
As part of the company’s latest moves, it plans to discontinue offering any service agreements to most customers other than its One plan starting on Jan. 22. That plan, which runs between $40 and $70 a month, includes unlimited voice calls, texts and data usage.
Current customers subscribed to other T-Mobile plans will be able to keep them or switch over to the One plan.
In addition to streamlining its rate plans, T-Mobile is also promising to make its customers’ bills clearer. The company said that customers will pay the rate it advertises — no more, no less. All fees, taxes and other charges will be included. So, when it says customers will pay $40 a line for a family of four for wireless service, those customers would pay $160 total, Legere said.
Surcharges and fees can add up to dozens or hundreds of dollars per month per customer, he noted.
“We’re bringing radical simplicity to this industry,” Mike Sievert, T-Mobile’s chief operating officer, said.
But things could be a little more complex for some customers, for better and for worse.
As part of the announcements, T-Mobile also said it will reward subscribers who use less than 2 gigabytes of data per month by discounting their bills by up to $10 per line monthly. The company didn’t immediately disclose how it would calculate the monthly discount.
On the flip side, some customers will pay more than the simple One prices. The One prices T-Mobile advertises assume that customers sign up for automatic payments. The company charges $5 a month extra to customers who choose to pay manually.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile limits data speeds for customers who use the most data and for subscribers who use their mobile device as a WiFi hot spot for their computers. It also downgrades streaming video from high definition to standard definition, which is far below the resolution of many phones these days. The company offers a $15 Plus option for consumers who want fewer such restrictions.
Under Legere, T-Mobile has earned a reputation for spurning common industry practices. It was the first major carrier to do away with two-year contracts and among the first to end the practice of charging when consumers exceeded their data quotas.
The company has also invested heavily in building out its network.
The moves have paid off. Even after taking into account customers who left the network, T-Mobile gained 8.2 million subscribers last year, marking the third year in a row that it had topped 8 million net customer gains, Legere said.
Legere tries to portray many of his moves as firsts for the industry, but often they really aren’t, said Jeff Kagan, an independent wireless industry analyst. The rates advertised by Cricket, a wireless carrier owned by AT&T, have included fees and taxes for a while now, he noted.
That said, the moves Legere and T-Mobile have made are both good for consumers and have been beneficial to the company.
Legere “did a great job of reinvigorating the company and putting T-Mobile back on the growth path,” Kagan said.
Published at Thu, 05 Jan 2017 23:50:24 +0000