John Legere, the unconventional CEO of T-Mobile US, yesterday launched the ninth in a series of so-called ‘uncarrier’ initiatives – which contained the operator’s first attempt at luring the business customer – and took the opportunity (once again) to shower his opponents with abuse.
At the launch press event in New York City, Legere, goading his rivals, said Uncarrier 9 comes after T-Mobile “took the last quarter off”.
“We weren’t even fighting and we [still] kicked the sh*t out of them,” he bragged. “They think their business is safe, it’s not.”
While Uncarrier 9 still has the consumer in mind, unveiling a contractual commitment to maintain price offers and an aggressive move to pay off devices to persuade customers to ditch rival operators, the launch of what it calls a simplified (and cheaper) tariff scheme for enterprises marks a first under Legere’s stewardship.
“We’re going to do for businesses what we’ve already been doing for consumers,” said the chief executive. “What’s happened to the business market is a complete disgrace.”
The overwhelming majority of US businesses (99.7 per cent), pointed out Legere, have fewer than 500 employees and “don’t have the money or resources to waste debating, negotiating and deciphering the carriers’ hidden pricing. Today, we’re upending how business buys wireless with 100 per cent transparent pricing, the best rates, business family discounts, and more.”
T-Mobile’s new business plan is priced at $16 per line for businesses that use under 20 lines. At over 20 lines, the price drops to $15 per line. At 1000 lines, the price per line is $10.
Each line comes with 1GB of data. Data can be purchased per line or pooled and distributed between many employees. Pooled data costs $4.75 per GB at a 100GB minimum and drops to $4.25GB at 1TB, but there are also options to purchase unlimited data for $30/line or 2GB of data for $10/line.
“The carriers’ shared data schemes hit you up with overage penalties of 200 per cent to 432 per cent of your original rate whenever you need more data,” said Legere. “With our new pooled data option, you’ll never pay more than your original rate when you need more. And, unlike the carriers, we’ll never charge you ‘access fees’ when you add lines − just to get at data you’ve already bought.”
Using T-Mobile’s new Business Family Discounts plan, customers who have a T-Mobile business line through work will also be able to get discounted service for their families as well. According to Legere, this can save families of two up to $438 per year.
Through a new partnership with GoDaddy, T-Mobile is also offering a free .com domain and website, optimised for mobile viewing, to business customers on its new plan with at least one line with additional paid data.
The new business benefits program also includes a free custom .com email addresses powered by Microsoft Office 365. The offer includes one business email for every T-Mobile business line with additional paid data. For a 20-person business, these tools would normally cost more than $1,300 every year, said T-Mobile, but are included at no additional cost through these special partnerships.
Jan Dawson, chief analyst, Jackdaw Research, thinks T-Mobile’s push into the enterprise space will have more appeal for smaller companies than the larger ones.
“T-Mobile’s new business offerings should be very popular with smaller businesses, which buy services very much like consumers, with the buyers being office managers or business owners rather than professional IT directors,” he said. “However, for larger businesses, rate plans are just part of the picture, and other features like mobile device management, other communications and productivity applications and wireline services will be part of the picture too, and T-Mobile can’t address any of those today.”
In what T-Mobile calls its new ‘Un-contract,’ the operator is looking to give customers more certainty in pricing. Consumers and businesses alike, says the operator, can now rest assured that their Simple Choice rate plan won’t go up as long as they are a T-Mobile customer and keep their plan. The operator added that even customers with unlimited 4G LTE will have their rates locked in for a minimum of two years.
The Un-contract kicks in automatically on 22 March for all existing T-Mobile Simple Choice customers. “No crazy strings, no hoops to jump through, no hidden fees, no BS,” said Legere.
“Locking in pricing for life will help counter some of T-Mobile’s competitors’ criticisms of disappearing promotional pricing,” noted Dawson.
T-Mobile also launched ‘Carrier Freedom’, a move which will see the operator cover all outstanding phone and tablet payments up to $650 per line when customers switch to T-Mobile. Legere said this would “free” 29 million people currently “trapped” at AT&T, Sprint or Verizon to make the move.
Dawson said T-Mobile’s latest moves will help keep growth momentum, although cautioned of a risk that they might attract the most price-sensitive customers, who will be more likely to switch carriers again in the future.
Even so, Dawson reports that T-Mobile claims this is not happening, and that these new customers are at least as loyal as the rest of its base. “Its churn is falling over time, which lends some credence to that claim,” said the analyst.
Not surprisingly, there was time at the Uncarrier 9.0 event for Legere to make more digs about his rivals and boast about T-Mobile’s LTE network. “We are 52 per cent faster than Verizon, who are faster than AT&T, and everybody’s faster than Sprint,” he said. “That’s what scares the crap out of them. We have the fastest network.”