T-Mobile continues looking for ways to one-up the Goliaths in the wireless carrier market. The self-proclaimed "uncarrier" announced a new program at a New York event Wednesday that lets people upgrade their phones as often as twice a year.
Dubbed Jump, the program's only hitch is you have to be enrolled for six months before you make your first trade in. T-Mobile is positioning the new deal as a way to give customers "total protection " for their smartphones in case they malfunction, sustain damage, or get lost or stolen -- or they just want to upgrade to the latest device.
While there's not much of a hitch there is a price to pay for the Jump program. T-Mobile is charging $10 a month for this "freedom." Its marketers are pushing out the message that the cost is a mere $2 more than what most customers already pay for handset protection alone. Will consumers buy it?
Why Wait Two Years?
"At some point, big wireless companies made a decision for you that you should have to wait two years to get a new phone for a fair price," said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile US.
"That's 730 days of waiting. 730 days of watching new phones come out that you can't have. Or having to live with a cracked screen or an outdated camera. We say two years is just too long to wait."
We caught up with Mark Lowenstein, a wireless industry analyst, to get his take on the new deal. He told us Jump is a bit of a complex equation for the subscriber.
"It's sort of like deciding whether to get dental insurance: how much dental service do you think you'll need over the course of a couple of years, plotted against the monthly premium, annual maximum benefit, and what procedures are covered," he said.
"What the subscriber gains here is flexibility. For the subscriber who wants to upgrade their device more frequently than the average, Jump makes a lot of sense. They pay more out-of-pocket costs for equipment-related expenses, gaining flexibility of upgrading when they want, plus the added benefits of insurance, which I think an increasing number of subscribers will opt for with smartphone growth."
Wider LTE Reach
T-Mobile also unveiled a program that lets families get four phone lines with unlimited talk, text and Web and up to 500 MB of high-speed data for only $100 per month. All with no credit check or annual service contract.
As the proverbial cherry on top, the carrier announced a major expansion of its 4G LTE network . The carrier now reaches 157 million people in 116 metro areas across the United States. The company is hoping to see continued momentum after nearly tripling its postpaid net-new customers who switched from AT&T in recent months.
Three new devices in the T-Mobile lineup may also help. The carrier announced the availability of the Xperia Z from Sony, the Nokia Lumia 925 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1.