LIVE FROM CES 2013: US number four operator T-Mobile today used a press conference to announce two new ‘firsts’ for the American market but it was CEO John Legere who stole the show with a string of barbed comments on the quality of rival operator offerings.

Legere – only on board as CEO since September 12 and new to the mobile industry – has clearly identified the operator’s need to address declining subscriber losses and improve its network technology in an effort to better compete with the likes of AT&T, Sprint and Verizon Wireless. And Legere was confident that T-Mobile is capable of turning itself around.

“If you think T-Mobile wasn’t going to be a significant player in this industry, think again,” he stated. “This is somebody finally listening to customers. If you landed from Mars on this planet and you looked at the way people sell to customers in this industry you would get back in your spaceship and go back to where you came from.”

He then launched into an attack on the network quality of its rivals: “Have you guys used AT&T’s network in New York?” he asked the audience. “It’s crap!” Legere also attacked Sprint for continuously delaying LTE network launches and later joked: “The way Verizon Wireless covered those dustbowl states with LTE is admirable.”

So how does T-Mobile USA plan to improve its position in the market? Two new service offerings give some indication of its way forward. First up, T-Mobile plans to offer the first unlimited nationwide 4G service in the US without a contract. Second, the carrier has launched the country’s first nationwide HD Voice service.

The company is also talking up its ‘BYOD’ strategy, claiming that 1.9 million iPhones are using the T-Mobile network despite the operator not officially selling the device. “Ours is a 70% faster network than AT&T’s,” claimed Legere.

Hitting back at long-running speculation that T-Mobile lags its rivals in terms of fast mobile broadband offerings, the company has brought forward its target of hitting 100 million POPS with LTE coverage to the middle of this year, with 200 million targeted by end-2013. CTO Neville Ray said the operator is just “weeks” away from launching LTE in Las Vegas. “T-Mobile can become one of the key leaders in LTE, and we will be launching very rapidly,” said Ray. “We will become even stronger in 2014. We will contribute to significant disruption in the marketplace.”

In typical fashion, Legere was even more outspoken: “These carriers five or six times our size are going to be in interviews with media a year from now talking about us… Our LTE network will be smoking.”