The Un-Carrier (slogan)
|VoiceStream Wireless Inc.
T-Mobile USA Inc.
MetroPCS Communications Inc.
|1994; 24 years ago (1994) (as VoiceStream Wireless PCS)|
|John W. Stanton|
|Bellevue, Washington, United States|
U.S. Virgin Islands
|John Legere (President) and (CEO)
Timotheus Höttges (Chairman)
|Deutsche Telekom AG. (66%)|
|MetroPCS, Layer3 TV|
|Footnotes / references
T-Mobile US, Inc., commonly shortened to T-Mobile, is a United States based wireless network operator to which the German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom (DT) is its majority shareholder. Its headquarters are located in Bellevue, Washington, in the Seattle metropolitan area. T-Mobile is the third largest wireless carrier in the United States with 72.6 million customers as of Q4 2017.
T-Mobile US provides wireless voice and data services in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands under the T-Mobile and MetroPCS brands (which it acquired in a reverse takeover in 2013, resulting in the company going public on the NASDAQ stock exchange), and also serves as the host network for many mobile virtual network operators. The company has annual revenues of $37 billion. Its network reaches 98 percent of Americans. In 2015, Consumer Reports named T-Mobile the number one American wireless carrier. In 2017, T-Mobile was ranked #1 in Customer Service Satisfaction by Nielsen.
T-Mobile US traces its roots to the 1994 establishment of VoiceStream Wireless PCS as a subsidiary of Western Wireless Corporation. Spun off from parent Western Wireless on May 3, 1999, VoiceStream Wireless was purchased by Deutsche Telekom AG in 2001 for $35 billion and renamed T-Mobile USA, Inc. in July, 2002. In 2013, T-Mobile and MetroPCS finalized a merger of the two companies. The two companies began trading as T-Mobile US.
VoiceStream Wireless PCS was established in 1994 as a subsidiary of Western Wireless Corporation to provide digital wireless personal communications services (PCS) in 19 FCC-defined metropolitan service areas in several western and southwestern states. VoiceStream Wireless' digital, urban service areas complemented the analog, rural service areas marketed by Western Wireless under the Cellular One brand.
Western Wireless spun off its VoiceStream Wireless division into a new company called VoiceStream Wireless Corporation in May 1999.
Omnipoint and Aerial acquisitions
In 2000, VoiceStream Wireless acquired two regional GSM carriers. Omnipoint Corporation, a regional network operator in the Northeastern U.S., was acquired on February 25, 2000. Aerial Communications Inc.; a regional network operator in the Columbus, Houston, Kansas City, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Pittsburgh and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Orlando markets; was acquired on May 4, 2000. The combined company retired the Omnipoint and Aerial brands and completed integrating the three companies by converting to a single customer billing platform, implementing standard business practices and launching the VoiceStream brand and "GET MORE" marketing strategy in all markets.
Deutsche Telekom acquires VoiceStream and Powertel
On June 1, 2001, Deutsche Telekom (DT) completed the acquisition of VoiceStream Wireless Inc. for $35 billion and Southern U.S. regional GSM network operator Powertel, Inc. for $24 billion. By the end of 2001, VoiceStream Wireless had 19,000 employees serving 7 million subscribers.
On September 2, 2001, VoiceStream Wireless Inc. took the name, T-Mobile USA, Inc. and began rolling out the T-Mobile brand, starting with locations in California and Nevada. T-Mobile USA, Inc. was an operating entity of T-Mobile International AG, before becoming a direct subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG.
On September 17, 2007, the company announced the acquisition of SunCom Wireless Holdings, Inc. for $2.4 billion; the acquisition closed on February 22, 2008. By September 8, 2008, SunCom's operations were integrated with those of the company. The acquisition added SunCom's 1.1 million customers to the company's customer base and expanded the company's network coverage to include southern Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, eastern Tennessee, northeastern Georgia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Attempted acquisition by AT&T
On March 20, 2011, DT accepted a $39 billion stock and cash purchase offer from AT&T for the company. The acquisition was subject to regulatory approvals, a reverse breakup fee in certain circumstances, and customary regulatory and closing conditions.
If the merger had been completed, AT&T Mobility would have had a customer base of approximately 130 million users, making it the largest wireless carrier in the U.S.
On August 31, 2011, the United States Department of Justice sued to block AT&T's merger with T-Mobile on the grounds that it would "substantially lessen competition" in the wireless market. Further reports indicated that the FCC would likely oppose the merger.
On December 19, 2011, in the face of this heavy resistance from the U.S. government, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson announced that the company had officially withdrawn its $39 billion bid. In an official statement, Stephenson addressed the continuing spectrum shortage (due to a significant increase in wireless demand), hinting that the company will continue to seek other options to solve the shortage in the short term.
Merger with MetroPCS Communications
On October 3, 2012, MetroPCS Communications reached an agreement to merge with T-Mobile USA. MetroPCS shareholders would hold a 26% stake in the merged company, which retained the T-Mobile brand. While the merged company was still the fourth largest carrier in the United States (at the time), the acquisition gave T-Mobile access to more spectrum and financial resources to maintain competitiveness and expand its LTE network. The merger between T-Mobile USA Inc. and MetroPCS was officially approved by MetroPCS shareholders on April 24, 2013. The deal was structured as a reverse takeover; the combined company went public on the New York Stock Exchange as TMUS and became known as T-Mobile US, Inc., on May 1, 2013. The merger agreement gave Deutsche Telekom the option to sell its 72% stake in the merged company, valued at around $14.2 billion, to a third party before the end of the 18-month lock-up period.
The "Un-carrier", additional wireless spectrum acquisition
In March 2013, T-Mobile introduced a major overhaul of its plan structure, marketed by branding themselves as being "the Un-carrier". Among the changes, a new contract-free pricing structure with simpler plans were introduced, in which a phone's cost is paid over a two-year financing plan. The "Un-carrier" strategy has since been expanded to encompass other value-added services, such as a plan add-on allowing phone trade-ins for early upgrades twice per year, carrying over unused data allotments for up to a year, and zero-rating of selected music and video services (the latter locked to "DVD quality") over the mobile network, These moves came as part of an effort under new CEO John Legere to help revitalize the business as it improves its network quality.
On June 28, 2013, T-Mobile agreed to buy wireless spectrum for the Mississippi Valley region from competitor U.S. Cellular for around $308 million, allowing the company to expand its 4G network across a further 29 markets.
On January 6, 2014, T-Mobile signed agreements with Verizon Wireless to purchase some 700 MHz A-Block spectrum licenses for $2.365 billion. Further, a transfer of some AWS and PCS spectrum licenses with a value of $950 million has been agreed upon by T-Mobile and Verizon. The acquisition reportedly gave T-Mobile additional coverage for approximately 158 million people in 9 of the top 10 and 21 of the top 30 U.S. markets.
Attempted mergers with Sprint
In December 2013, multiple reports indicated that Sprint Corporation and its parent company Softbank were working towards a deal to acquire a majority stake in T-Mobile for at least US$20 billion. The proposed merger, which would result in the country's major national carriers being controlled by only three companies, would further bolster T-Mobile's position in the overall market. Members of the government were skeptical that such an acquisition would be approved by regulators, citing antitrust concerns and an explicit goal by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to maintain four national carriers in the United States. On April 30, 2014, Bloomberg reported that Sprint was in talks with its lenders to ensure that the company would be financially prepared for the bid, now valued at $24 billion and planned for "summer 2014". It was also reported that due to his success within the company, current T-Mobile CEO John Legere was the top contender to be named CEO of a merged Sprint/T-Mobile, and that Sprint had insisted on a low termination fee to prevent regulators from being given an incentive to block the deal, as had occurred with AT&T's failed attempt to purchase T-Mobile.
On August 1, 2014, Xavier Niel's Iliad SA publicly announced a US$16 billion all-cash counter-bid to acquire a 56% stake in T-Mobile US, which would be funded using equity and debt. Iliad is the parent company of French carrier Free Mobile, which had—similarly to T-Mobile, performed disruptive business moves to undercut its competitors, triggering a "price war" among them upon its launch in 2012. Credit Suisse analysts felt that the bid would not be "attractive" to the company's current shareholders due to its lower value in comparison to Sprint's bid, but could "put pressure on Sprint to move sooner rather [than] later."
On August 4, 2014, Bloomberg reported that Sprint had abandoned its bid to acquire T-Mobile, considering the unlikelihood that such a deal would be approved by the U.S. government and its regulators.
On February 17, 2017, it was reported by Reuters that Softbank was considering selling its majority stake in Sprint to Deutsche Telekom (an effective reversal of the original deal), citing struggling growth in the U.S. market, and a higher likelihood that the deal would be approved by the Trump administration. However, after months of speculation and rumors about a potential deal being reached, both T-Mobile and Sprint announced on November 4, 2017 that while they have had discussions about a merger, they have both decided to end talks about any mergers with each other due to not being able to agree on the terms of the combined deal, due to Softbank's board of directors reported vote on October 27 where they decided not to give up control of Sprint.
Entry into television market
On December 13, 2017, T-Mobile US announced its intent to acquire the IPTV provider Layer3 TV, which operates in Chicago and Washington, as the basis of its own subscription television service planned to launch in 2018.
The company owns licenses to operate a cellular communications network in the 1900 MHz (PCS) and 1700 MHz (AWS) bands with coverage in many parts of the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as licenses in the 700 MHz band (block A mostly) available in certain parts of the country. In 2017 T-Mobile also acquired a nationwide 600 MHz license. It expects to deploy this spectrum over the next few years as it is vacated by television stations across the country in stages. With respect to technology, depending on the location, in the 1900 MHz band it deploys GSM, UMTS/HSPA+, and/or LTE (Band 2); in the 1700 MHz band it deploys UMTS/HSPA+ and/or LTE (B4 and B66); and LTE-only in the 700 MHz (B12) and 600 MHz (B71) bands. Its LTE network also supports VoLTE. It provides coverage in areas where it does not own radio frequency spectrum licenses via roaming agreements with other operators of compatible networks.
The company's predecessor, VoiceStream Wireless, began building a regional, 2G, 1900 MHz GSM, circuit switched, digital cellular network in 1994 and first offered service in 1996 in Honolulu and Salt Lake City. From that starting point, the network has expanded in size through acquisitions of other cellular-network operators and additional spectrum purchases. The network has also expanded in capabilities through the introduction of new technologies. VoiceStream upgraded the 1900 MHz network to include packet switching via General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), then increased packet switched data transmission speeds via Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution. In 2006, the company spent $4.2 billion to purchase 120 D, E or F block 1700 MHz AWS licenses and began rolling out 3G UMTS services in those frequency bands. The company upgraded network equipment and back-haul capabilities to enable HSPA (High Speed Packet Access), and later HSPA+ and LTE services.
Packet-switched data upgrade
Packet-switched data service first became available to users in the form of General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). Packet-switched data speeds increased when Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) was incorporated into the network. EDGE coverage was available within at least forty percent of the GSM footprint.
Both voice capacity and packet-switched data speeds improved when 3G Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) equipment was installed in the network. On January 5, 2010, the company announced that it had upgraded its entire 3G network to HSPA 7.2 Mbit/s, an improvement from its previous peak of 3.6 Mbit/s. It also said that it planned to be the first U.S. carrier to deploy HSPA+ across its network by mid-2010. The company had finished HSPA+ trials in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and had begun deploying HSPA+ across its network.
3G upgrade / discontinuation
In September 2006, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auctioned licenses in the first Advanced Wireless Services band. This band was an area of wireless spectrum, half in the 1700 MHz (1.7 GHz) and half in the 2100 MHz (2.1 GHz) frequencies, that was already in use by government services. The spectrum was planned to become available after the government users migrated to different frequencies.
The auction made numerous licenses available in overlapping market-areas, economic-areas, and regional levels. Each license was individually bid upon, and T-Mobile USA was the winner in 120 license auctions, at an aggregate price of $4.18 billion. As part of its winnings, T-Mobile USA gained nationwide coverage of 1.7 GHz and 2.1 GHz, with numerous areas being supplemented with additional licenses. Examples include New York City, Chicago, and Boston where T-Mobile USA acquired one-third (33 percent) of the available spectrum, or San Francisco, Houston, and Miami where they acquired 45 percent of the available spectrum.
October 6, 2006, two weeks after confirming its winning bids, the company announced its intentions to create a UMTS third-generation, or 3G, cellular network with the spectrum it had won. It said it would utilize and build on the experience of T-Mobile International's European subsidiaries, which already implemented 3G networks. At the time of initial roll-out, the company intended to offer 7.2 Mbit/s service, making the company's 3G network the fastest in the U.S. The upgrade was forecast to cost $2.6 billion, in addition to the $4.12 billion spent to acquire the spectrum licenses.
In the same announcement, the company indicated it had already begun to deploy about half of the upgraded equipment, beginning in major markets such as New York City. With the equipment in place, it would be able to activate its network as soon as the government agencies vacated the spectrum. The company had hoped to have its network activated by mid-2007, but as of September 2007, the government users had not vacated the AWS band.
The company began selling its first 3G-capable phone, the Nokia 6263, in November 2007 and announced in February 2008 that its 3G network would finally be activated "within the next few months". and released in the New York City market on May 1, 2008.
By 2009, the company had launched its 3G network in more than 200 markets, covering some 208 million points of presence (POPS). Throughout 2015, T-Mobile began refarming UMTS/HSPA services from the original AWS band to their PCS band to expand bandwidth available for LTE. This rendered a select number of T-Mobile 3G devices inoperable on the 3G network.
On June 28, 2010, the company announced that it would begin to upgrade its network from HSPA+ 21 to HSPA+ 42 beginning sometime in 2011. T-Mobile marketed HSPA+ services as 4G.
4G LTE upgrade
On February 23, 2012, during the Q4 Earnings Call, T-Mobile laid out the future of their 4G upgrade path. They would roll out the LTE network on the AWS spectrum, and transition their HSPA+ network to the PCS band. To achieve compatibility with other networks and phones in the USA, T-Mobile began this transition in March 2013, and the rollout of LTE is currently underway as T-Mobile expands to more markets. Due to the failed acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T, T-Mobile USA received additional UMTS frequency band IV (AWS) spectrum. On March 26, 2013, T-Mobile began rolling out LTE in 7 markets: Baltimore, San Jose, Washington, D.C., Phoenix, Las Vegas, Kansas City, and Houston.
On August 21, 2012, the FCC approved a deal between T-Mobile and Verizon in which T-Mobile gained additional AWS spectrum licenses in 125 Cellular Market Areas.
On February 25, 2014, T-Mobile announced in their Q4 2013 earnings call that their 4G LTE network covered 209 million people in 273 metro areas. They also planned to start rolling out their 700 MHz A-Block spectrum by the end of 2014, which by the end of the roll out would cover 158 million people. This spectrum led to improved LTE coverage overall in these areas, particularly indoors.
On March 13, 2014, T-Mobile announced a new plan to upgrade its entire 2G/EDGE network to 4G LTE. They expected 50% to be done by the end of 2014, and it to be "substantially complete" by the middle of 2015.
On December 16, 2014, T-Mobile announced during CEO John Legere's Un-carrier 8.0 interview that their 4G LTE network covered 260 million people and their 700 MHz Band 12 LTE had been rolled out in Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. They expected to cover 280 million with LTE by mid-2015 and 300 million by the end of 2015. They also stated that they covered 121 metro areas with their Wideband LTE.
On October 27, 2015, T-Mobile announced in its Q3 2015 earnings call that they covered over 300 million people with LTE, reaching their 2015 end of year goal months ahead of schedule. They had 245 markets with Wideband (at least 15+15 MHz) LTE. They also had 204 markets with Extended Range 700 MHz Band 12 LTE covering around 175 million people. Their coverage map revealed that they now had new native LTE coverage in Montana, the Dakotas, Eastern West Virginia, and Northern Michigan.
On May 25, 2016 T-Mobile announced that it will be purchasing the 700Mhz A-block license (LTE band 12) for the Chicago metro area. When this transaction closes, together with several other pending 700Mhz license acquisitions, T-Mobile expects to possess 700Mhz licenses covering a total of 272 million people, or 84% of the US population – including 10 of the top 10 largest US metro areas. T-Mobile refers to its 700Mhz low-band network as 'Extended-range LTE' and claims it penetrates buildings and reaches out farther than its PCS and AWS only network. In September 2016, T-Mobile launched 4x4 MIMO and 3 channel carrier aggregation allowing theoretical speeds of 400 Mbit/s, and also announced that the company's LTE network reaches over 312 million potential subscribers.
As of 2008, prepaid customers have almost all of the postpaid domestic roaming privileges and restricted international roaming to Canada and Mexico.
In 2009, T-Mobile USA began removing AT&T Mobility roaming coverage in many locations across the country, and updated its on-line coverage maps to reflect the smaller coverage area. AT&T Mobility roaming remains available in select locations, primarily on smaller carriers that were acquired by AT&T Mobility after long-term roaming contracts were in place between T-Mobile and the smaller carriers, including Centennial Wireless and Edge Wireless.
On June 29, 2010, the company launched voice service in the Gulf of Mexico on GSM via roaming agreement through Broadpoint. T-Mobile USA was scheduled to launch data service in Fall 2010. Also in 2010, T-Mobile US became a member of the FreeMove alliance.
On October 9, 2013, T-Mobile announced Simple Global, a service included with eligible Simple Choice plans. This service allows one to roam in over 100 countries with unlimited text and speed-limited data, and make calls at $0.20/minute. High-speed data passes will be available for purchase. On March 7, 2014, T-Mobile announced this number will be increasing to 122 countries. If one is connected to WiFi in one of these countries, and their phone supports WiFi calling, all calls and texts to and from the USA are free, and work the same as if they were on the cellular network.
On July 15, 2015, T-Mobile launched Mobile Without Borders, a service included with all new T-Mobile plans and available as an add-on to grandfathered or promotional plans for $10. This service allows the user to use their normal voice, text message, and data allotments while roaming in Mexico and Canada. Most T-Mobile services are available while roaming, with the notable exception of using the data in one's Data Stash.
In August 2015, T-Mobile joined the Competitive Carriers Association's Data Services Hub, enabling the company to expand roaming partnerships with over a dozen rural and regional carriers. Smaller carriers will now be able to access T-Mobile's LTE network for roaming and T-Mobile will be able to expand roaming partnerships and extend its footprint with members whose network technologies had previously been incompatible.
In October 2017, T-Mobile announced that starting November 12, 2017, LTE-speeds will be limited at 5 GB (with speeds going at speeds at 128 KB/s or 256 KB/s on some plans) while using data roaming in Canada in Mexico, although data remains unlimited. However, calling and texting still remain free from roaming charges.
Radio frequency spectrum chart
The following chart describes radio frequency spectrum bands accessible by the company's customers.
|1900 MHz PCS||2||GSM/GPRS/EDGE||2G||In Service||Currently retaining 2G service for M2M customers and international roaming.|
|UMTS/HSPA+||3G||No longer in Service||Used for 3G service in most markets as AWS spectrum is refarmed for LTE. 3G PCS service may operate alongside AWS 3G in some urban markets. 3G PCS service is being refarmed in some areas for additional LTE capacity. 3G 1900MHZ No longer available after recent tower upgrades.|
|LTE||4G||In Service/ Building out||PCS LTE is typically deployed in rural areas to reuse GSM antennas. PCS LTE is also being rolled out in urban areas to increase LTE capacity. It is also the main LTE band in some markets where AWS is not available.|
|1700/2100 MHz AWS||4||UMTS/HSPA+||3G||Reducing Service||T-Mobile has been moving 3G service from AWS to its PCS spectrum. This will free up more capacity for LTE. However, in some markets there still will be 3G service provided, and in other markets there will be no 3G service, as it will be solely provided on PCS spectrum.|
|LTE||4G||In Service||Refarmed from 3G. Main LTE band in most markets.|
|Extended AWS block for additional capacity in some areas.|
|700 MHz Lower SMH A/B/C||12||In Service/ Building out||T-Mobile refers to band 12 LTE as 'Extended-range LTE' as it has better signal propagation characteristics than its PCS and AWS-based frequencies. Initial rollout began in December 2014. As of November 2017, the company owns 700 MHz licenses covering about 85% of the US population.|
|600 MHz US DD||71||In Service/Building out||Spectrum purchased in early 2017, network launched in August 2017. Licenses cover 100% of the United States.|
T-Mobile has used the term "Hotspot" to represent various products and technologies.
Wi-Fi network (public)
The company operates a nationwide Wi-Fi Internet access network under the T-Mobile HotSpots brand. The T-Mobile HotSpots network consists of thousands of Wi-Fi access points installed in businesses, hotels and airports throughout the U.S.
The T-Mobile HotSpot service offers access to a nationwide network of approximately 8,350 access points, installed in venues such as Starbucks coffeehouses, FedEx Office Office and Print Centers, Hyatt hotels and resorts, Red Roof Inns, Sofitel hotels, Novotel hotels, the airline clubs of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways, and airports.
The T-Mobile HotSpots network can be traced to the company's 2002 purchase of bankrupt wireless ISP MobileStar, which began building its network in 1998. After completing the purchase, the company expanded the network into 400 Borders bookstores, as well as 100 of the most-frequented airport clubs and lounges operated by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.
On September 14, 2014, T-Mobile partnered up with GoGo to provide free texting on airplanes for its customers. GoGo services are provided on Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines.
On June 6, 2016, T-Mobile expanded its partnership with GoGo to offer T-Mobile users one hour of free WiFi on customers phones while T-Mobile One Plus and One Plus International users also get free WiFi throughout the entire flight. T-Mobile also included other messaging apps (iMessage, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp and Viber) in addition to SMS texting being provided since September 2014.
Wi-Fi network (private)
T-Mobile has also used the term to describe Wi-Fi Access Points that it sold to end users to expand their cell phone network to phones equipped to also receive Wi-Fi using a VOIP-like technology. (The models included at least two by Linksys: the WRTU54G-TM and the WRT54G-TM and one by D-Link: the TM-G5240.)
Products and services
In August 2016, T-Mobile introduced T-Mobile ONE. It will be the only rate plan offered in the future, with plans to gradually phase out Simple Choice. It combines unlimited voice minutes, text messaging, and high-speed data (the top 1% of users—currently 50 GB/month—may be deprioritized under congested conditions), replacing Binge On, Music Freedom, and Data Stash. Video streaming is limited to 1.5 Mbit/s, allowing 480p resolution in most cases, and mobile hotspot (tethering) is limited to 3G speeds. The $10/line/month ONE Plus add-on allows HD streaming and adds 10 GB of mobile hotspot at 4G LTE speeds; the $25/line/month ONE Plus International additionally provides international calling and texting and unlimited mobile hotspot at 4G LTE speeds. Subscribers who do not enable auto-pay are charged a $5/line/month fee; otherwise, as of January 22, 2017, all taxes and regulatory fees are included in the plan cost. The plan has been criticized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others for potentially violating net neutrality rules and making previously-included features paid extras. Subscribers on Simple Choice can keep their current plans.
In response to Verizon launching their new Verizon Unlimited Plan, T-Mobile has their T-Mobile ONE Plus plan to include High Definition (1080p) video streaming and 10 GB of High Speed Mobile Hot Spot data (to be slowed to 3G speeds after using the allowance) at an extra rate of $10/month per line. Also, their prioritization threshold was raised to 50 GB on all T-Mobile ONE plans.
In March 2013, T-Mobile introduced a new streamlined plan structure known as Simple Choice for new customers. This is part of an initiative called Un-carrier which drops contracts, subsidized phones, overage fees for data, and early termination fees.
Capping unlimited data users
On August 31, 2015, T-Mobile announced it will ask users who abuse its unlimited on-smartphone data plan by violating T-Mobile's Terms & Conditions regarding tethering (which like unlimited on-smartphone data, remains unlimited, however, offers a 14 GB high speed allotment before deprioritizing takes effect), by permanently removing user access to unlimited plans and migrating users to a tiered data plan. By doing so, all plans after a select amount of inclusive high-speed data, result in automatic throttled speeds, preventing unlimited high-speed tethering use and abuse of the network. T-Mobile stated that there are a small handful of users who abuse the tethering plan by altering device software and/or the use of an Android app that masks T-Mobile's ability monitoring whether data is on-smartphone, or through smartphone mobile hotspot (tethering) by mimicking all data as on-smartphone use, with some customers abusing the service by using as much as 2 TB per month, causing speed issues for all other customers.
The InReach program provides a free cell phone and a limited number of voice minutes each month for low-income-eligible families (one per family) who do not use Lifeline services offered by any other phone or wireless company. It is funded through the Universal Service Fund, but is only operational in a limited number of states and Puerto Rico.
MetroPCS was taken over by T-Mobile in 2013, the new company formed T-Mobile US and currently continues to offer prepaid wireless services under the MetroPCS brand.
GoSmart Mobile was a T-Mobile branded service that launched in beta on December 7, 2012, and became officially available nationwide on February 19, 2013. GoSmart offered no-contract SIM wireless services. GoSmart Mobile was sold to consumers through dealers who worked as independent contractors under their own company name. Such sellers are known as "Authorized Dealers" with either physical or online stores. In September 2016, T-Mobile sold the brand and 326,000 GoSmart Mobile customers to TracFone Wireless. The customers were reclassified as wholesale subscribers.
On January 22, 2014, T-Mobile announced that it would expand its products into banking. T-Mobile would provide Visa card with banking features and a smartphone money management application with reduced-fee or zero-cost services for T-Mobile wireless customers. In addition, customers would have access to over 42,000 ATMs with no fees.
In early 2016 T-mobile decided to discontinue the banking cards. They can no longer be purchased at T-Mobile.
This section needs expansion.
From as early as 2004, the company has captured multiple J. D. Power annual awards in the areas of retail sales satisfaction, wireless customer care, and overall customer satisfaction. In 2011, J. D. Power and Associates stated that T-Mobile retail stores achieved the highest ratings among major wireless carriers for customer satisfaction for the fourth consecutive year, performing particularly well in price and promotions. Also in 2011, J. D. Power and Associates ranked T-Mobile USA highest among major providers in wireless customer care for the second consecutive year.
On December 3, 2015, Consumer Reports named T-Mobile the number one American wireless service provider. The results combine data from customer service, voice quality, text messaging services, and data speeds.
On February 6, 2016, T-Mobile was awarded the JD Power Award for customer satisfaction in the full service wireless category for the second year in a row. T-Mobile received the highest score ever in the wireless industry.
Sidekick data outage
On October 1, 2009, some users of Microsoft's Sidekick handset temporarily lost personal data, including contacts, notes, and calendars. On October 8, most data services were restored to users. The company and Microsoft announced on October 10 that Sidekick device data "almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger." On October 15, Microsoft said it had been able to recover most or all data and would begin to restore it. A few weeks later, all Sidekick customers were able to recover their data via Danger's sync website using a restore file, or had the option to wait until data was restored to the device itself.
On November 9, 2009, some of the company's subscribers temporarily lost the ability to send and receive calls and text messages for several hours. The company confirmed the outage via Twitter. The company stated that approximately five percent of its subscribers had been affected. It claimed that the problem was caused by a system software error.
On February 13 and March 25, 2015, T-Mobile suffered LTE outages along the east coast causing users to lose data connections.
Jamie Lee Curtis was the spokesperson for T-Mobile USA's predecessor, VoiceStream Wireless, since 1998. VoiceStream's advertising slogan was: "Get more from life". During the transition to the T-Mobile brand, Jamie Lee Curtis continued as spokesperson for a short time and the slogan was changed to "T-Mobile. Get More."
Starting in 2002, the company's spokesperson was Catherine Zeta-Jones who was the main figure in its branding strategy. As of September 2006, Zeta-Jones had officially been dropped as the "face" of the company for its advertising campaigns due to a corporate rebranding strategy. The company also relied on rapper Snoop Dogg as the spokesperson for its T-Mobile Sidekick in a series of commercials late in 2004, the company also released a series of Sidekick phones known as the D-Wade Edition for basketball player Dwyane Wade.
In 2009, it changed its approach to advertising, and moved from the "Get More" slogan to a "Stick Together" slogan to focus more on the personal aspect of staying together with those who matter the most to its customers. The slogan was also meant to promote its MyFaves calling-circle plan. With this the company also ended its relationship with Zeta-Jones, and now use mainly non-celebrity spokespeople (though Dwyane Wade, Charles Barkley, and Dwight Howard are featured in some commercials, in association with the company's sponsorship of the NBA as official wireless provider).
In late May 2009, Zeta-Jones was brought back as a company spokesperson to show customers how to pay less for their wireless plan in a new "Mobile Makeovers" advertising campaign that refers customer to third-party comparison site BillShrink.com.
In late 2009, commercials for the T-Mobile MyTouch 3G featured the song "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" by Cat Stevens and celebrities such as Chevy Chase, Molly Shannon, Dana Carvey and Darrell Hammond. Another commercial with the same song performed by a different artist showed Wyclef Jean, Avril Lavigne and Brad Paisley.
Carly Foulkes is the spokeswoman for the myTouch 4G in commercials that parody the Get a Mac campaign. The model is known for Rugby Ralph Lauren ads. Although Foulkes is often identified with the color pink, T-Mobile actually has a color trademark for the color magenta, and markets itself using its corporate colors. Virgin Mobile has, in turn, parodied the Carly Foulkes ads.
In September 2010, the company launched "Kids are free till 2012" for family lines.
On December 1, 2011, a group of 100 Chicago-area women, along with Carly Foulkes, were featured in a flash-mob style performance at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois, where the group, dressed in magenta dresses, sang and danced through the mall's atrium to their cover of (There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays. The performance was filmed and edited into a holiday commercial, which was a success.
Starting in 2013, T-Mobile launched the Un-carrier marketing campaign. This movement introduced a slew of new tactics to offer consumers cheaper rate plans, cheaper global coverage, and several other benefits. T-Mobile CEO John Legere laid out an 'Un-Carrier manifesto' highlighting the approach and goals he wanted the company to pursue. One popular Un-carrier move features T-Mobile Tuesdays, where customers are offered a variety of free products and also able to win prizes. The most recent Un-carrier campaign is titled 'T-Mobile One'. This is a new family plan offering, replacing all previous plans and is an all inclusive unlimited plan, giving unlimited talk, text and data. The only caveat being video streaming on any device is limited to 480p resolution. CEO John Legere in an interview said "The biggest pain point that a million customers told me about is that they hate data buckets. And we had such success with Binge On that we wanted to turn our company into somebody that's selling a monthly subscription to the internet, all in, unlimited." As of October 7, 2016, about a quarter of the overall account numbers have moved over to T-Mobile One, and about three quarters of new postpaid accounts are activating on T-Mobile One.
T-Mobile US employees and two labor unions have led multiple unionization attempts beginning as early as 2001.
Formation of TU
Hundreds of T-Mobile employees, with the backing of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the German union ver.di, have joined together as TU to gain representation at T-Mobile. In July, 2011, technicians in Connecticut, voted for representation by the Communications Workers of America-TU. On September 25, 2013, MetroPCS workers in Harlem, NY, voted for a union voice and representation by CWA-TU.
2009 coordinated organizing effort
In 2008, the CWA and ver.di launched a coordinated effort to unionize company employees. A spokesman for the CWA called on the company to stop resisting mobilization efforts and allow company employees to unionize as German employees of T-Mobile USA's parent company, DT, have done. In response, the company released an employee satisfaction study showing that more than seventy percent of the company's 40,000 workers were "very satisfied" with their jobs. Through a spokesman, the company stated, "Despite the Communication Workers of America's periodic organizing efforts for more than nine years, no group of T-Mobile employees has ever chosen to be represented by a union. While our company is always striving to find ways to improve, year after year, employees continue to view T-Mobile as a good place to work where they have no need for, or interest in, a union."
In 2009, a number of politicians, in one case acting after lobbying efforts by CWA union activists, wrote letters to René Obermann, DT's chief executive officer, in an effort to influence T-Mobile USA's labor practices in the U.S.
In a March 13, 2009, letter, U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) asked "why the company's approach to labor rights are different in Germany than in the United States". In an April 30, 2010, letter sent after lobbying by Communications Workers of America activists, 26 Democratic members of Congress called on DT to protect and respect workers' rights in the U.S. A separate July 1, 2010, letter from seven Republicans addressed the same issue. On August 10, 2010, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released a statement in support of the worker's efforts to organize a union at the company. In a letter, dated September 21, 2010, fifteen Californian Members of Congress urged Obermann to take action and implement fair and equitable labor relations.
In a November 5, 2009, letter, Thomas DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller and Trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, stated concerns about "the potential impact on the value of T-Mobile that may result from a disenfranchised workforce and the associated negative publicity that may impact T-Mobile's profitability."
On December 9, 2009, the non-profit organization American Rights at Work published a report written by Prof. John Logan, Director of Labor Studies at San Francisco State University, titled "Lowering the Bar or Setting the Standard? Deutsche Telekom's U.S. Labor Practices". The report details behavior by the company that the author perceives as anti-union including dissemination of anti-union materials, intimidation and threats directed at pro-union workers, "captive audience meetings" and the retention of anti-union specialists. In the report, which is based on documents from the National Labor Relations Board, internal company memos and handbooks, and interviews with workers, Logan asserts that the company engaged in a systematic campaign to prevent employees from forming a union and that DT was guilty of operating by a double standard. He claims that Deutsche Telekom respects workers' rights in Germany, where it cooperates closely with unions, but mistreats workers in the United States and interferes with their right to organize.
On September 2, 2010, Human Rights Watch released a report written by Lance Compa titled "A Strange Case: Violations of Workers' Freedom of Association in the United States by European Multinational Corporations". The report concludes that "company policy has translated into practices that leave the workforce fearful about even seeking union representation." DT proclaims its adherence to international labor law and standards that are embodied in German domestic laws. But HRW found that "T-Mobile USA's harsh opposition to workers' freedom of association in the United States betrays Deutsche Telekom's purported commitment to social responsibility, impedes constructive dialogue with employee representatives, and in several cases, has violated ILO and OECD labor and human rights standards".
At the company's Allentown, Pennsylvania, call center, security guards were ordered by company managers to write up incident reports whenever union supporters appeared on nearby public grounds and to record the license plate numbers of employees who stopped to take leaflets. In 2006, the National Labor Relations Board found that these activities violated Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act.
In 2008, company management in the Pacific Northwest and Southwest Retail Divisions sent a memorandum to store managers instructing them to immediately report any union activity to their supervisors. Human Rights Watch states, "The NLRB has long held that such activity interferes with, restrains, and coerces employees in the exercise of Section 7 rights in violation of workers' right to freedom of association."
Nicolas Jacobsen was charged with intruding into the company's internal network in January 2005. Reports indicated that for about a year Jacobsen had access to customer passwords, e-mail, address books, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and Sidekick photos. Affected customers included members of the United States Secret Service. Secret Service informant identified Jacobsen as part of "Operation Firewall" which provided evidence that Jacobsen had attempted to sell customer information to others for identity theft. T-Mobile USA and the Secret Service did not elaborate on the methods Jacobsen used to gain access but sources close to the case indicated that Jacobsen exploited an unpatched flaw in the Oracle WebLogic Server application software used by the company. Additional SQL injection vulnerabilities with the company's web site were reported by Jack Koziol of the InfoSec Institute.
T-Mobile offers access to voice mail without the input of a password by default. Parties acting in bad faith may be able to access such voice mailboxes via Caller ID spoofing. To avoid this possibility, T-Mobile recommends that all customers password protect their mailboxes, but still offers the no password configuration by default due to customer demand.
On June 6, 2009, a message posted from an email account "pwnmobile_at_Safe-mail.net" to the Full Disclosure mailing list claimed that the company's network had been breached and showed sample data. The sender offered "databases, confidential documents, scripts and programs from their servers, financial documents up to 2009" to the highest bidder. On June 9, the company issued a statement confirming the breach but stating that customer data was safe. It claimed to have identified the source document for the sample data and believe it was not obtained by hacking. A later statement claimed that there was not any evidence of a breach.
Privacy and surveillance
T-Mobile USA received a portion of the 1.3 million largely warrantless law enforcement requests for subscriber information (including text messages and phone location data) made in 2011, but refused to state how many requests it received. It did say that in the last decade, the number of requests have increased by 12 to 16 percent annually.
Data retention policies
In 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a document entitled, "Retention Periods of Major Cellular Providers," to advise law enforcement agents seeking to obtain cell phone records. This document was uncovered by the ACLU's coordinated records request on cell phone location tracking by police. Notably, the document showed that T-Mobile subscriber information was retained for 5 years and call detail records were kept for 2 years (prepaid) and 5 years (postpaid).
In 2013, Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey revealed responses from the top four U.S. wireless providers as well as U.S. Cellular, C Spire, and Cricket/Leap Wireless, to his inquiry regarding user information disclosed to law enforcement officials. The following was T-Mobile's response regarding data retention: T-Mobile US retains customers' historic cell site information and cell tower dump information (180 days); call details records (7–10 years); text message content, data requests, and geo-location data not stored; voicemail content (up to 21 days); subscriber information (6 years after account is closed).
Comparing between the 2010 DOJ memo released by the ACLU and Markey's 2013 wireless data retention disclosures, it should be noted that T-Mobile increased the retention period for subscriber information from 5 to 6 years. T-Mobile also increased its call detail record retention from 2 years (prepaid) and 5 years (postpaid) to 7–10 years.
- List of companies based in Bellevue, Washington
- List of United States wireless communications service providers
- List of mobile network operators of the Americas
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