T-Mobile is in an odd position. On one hand they’re loved for low prices and l generally (still) good customer service. They’re looked down upon for shoddy coverage compared to the bigger 3 (AT&T, Sprint and Verizon), are sorely behind on next-gen/LTE expansion and often get passed up for the best devices. And then there was that whole
AT&T-Mobile merger hullabaloo. Well guess what? T-Mobile owner, Deutsch Telekom still wants to offload the seemingly sinking ship they can’t seem to get rid of or make insanely profitable. Bloomberg is reporting that DK is actively talking to MetroPCS about a potential sale.
This is both good and bad. On one hand, two smaller carriers like T-Mobile and MetroPCS could reduce operating costs immensely by closing a ton of extra stores, reducing workforce numbers and a ton of other cost saving actions that would make the new paired carrier profitable in the long run. However, the “bad” part is much worse. The two carriers use completely opposite network technologies — CDMA for MetroPCS and GSM for T-Mobile. And before you go uttering the phrase “it could work”, we ask that you take a glance over your shoulder to that sputtering failure sucking wind in 3rd place, Sprint. How’s that Nextel acquisition working out for them several years later? Oh yeah. It’s not. They’re closing it down in 2013.
Honestly, we feel that merging with MetroPCS would likely cause more
hassle/money woes than T-Mobile has now. And they really don’t need that.
In other T-Mobile related news… T-Mobile is doing something it has struggled to do in recent years — add (lots) of new customers. According to cnet, T-Mobile’s pre-paid and wholesale businesses are T-Mobile’s saving grace, adding 249,000 and 449,000 new customers respectively. In total, net customer increase over the same few quarters is being reported at 187,000.
While the above pre-paid/wholesale numbers are positive, post-paid is still a spiraling death trap, with the carrier posting a loss of 510,000 customers. All that said, T-Mobile still serves up cellular service to ~33.4 million people.
Can The iPhone Help?
T-Mobile is the only major U.S. carrier to still have have official iPhone support even as many regional carriers now spring up around the country offering official sales for said phone. And as much of a (longer-term) cash cow as Apple’s iPhone has proven to be, the initial up front costs to buy the phones from Apple as well as huge investment
needed in network infrastructure are high — likely why T-Mobile has’t scored their own iPhone thus far.
But times are a changin’. T-Mobile announced earlier this week at CTIA in New Orleans that they are embarking on a massive network upgrade over the next 1-2 years. For starters, T-Mobile is moving their 3G HSPA+ network to the 1,900 MHz PCS band — the same band that Apple’s current iPhone will support HSPA+ on, thereby bringing “official” iPhone support with 3G to T-Mobile. The re-farming of their HSPA+ band
will of course allow the carrier to also begin rolling out their own next-gen LTE network.
By itself, the iPhone (and support for the iPhone) is unlikely to be a one-stop, overnight fix for T-Mobile’s many problems. But it’s a step in the right direction that could very well see the carrier once again in a competitive mode with Sprint for at least the country’s #3 carrier position.