While AT&T has been making market moves on the pricing front, T-Mobile is forging ahead on its network upgrade. The so-called Un-carrier on Thursday announced plans to add 4G LTE to its slower 2G network. T-Mobile has also set its sights on wiping out what it calls Verizon Wireless' misleading map ads.
With the typical hype and fanfare, T-Mobile bragged about how its 4G LTE network currently reaches 210 million people in 273 metro areas nationwide before breaking news about a new program to upgrade its EDGE Network with 4G LTE. The company anticipates rolling out half of the upgrade in 2014 and the rest by mid-2015.
What does this mean for T-Mobile customers? Those who are suffering with slower 2G coverage will notice a massive speed upgrade. Those who already tap into 4G LTE will see coverage expand.
T-Mobile Takes Legal Action
And when it comes to its competitors' claims about its network, T-Mobile said don't believe a word of it.
"Our competitors want you to believe our network doesn't measure up. But that just isn't true,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “And American consumers are going to see right through the spin and half-truths when given the facts."
That’s not the only misconception T-Mobile is working to break. The company is also pushing back against what it calls “misleading competitive claims” via primetime TV ads that started airing Wednesday night. T-Mobile is boldly demanding Verizon “cease and desist” with its map ads showing it has the best coverage in the industry. T-Mobile has taken legal action against Verizon on this front.
"Verizon's ink blots massively understate our coverage and don't begin to represent the actual customer experience on T-Mobile's network," said Legere. "So we're setting the record straight -- both by demanding an end to the misinformation, and by going straight to the people with the truth."
PR Doesn’t Match Performance
We turned to Jeff Kagan, an independent wireless analyst, for his take on the news. He told us T-Mobile was dying on the vine up until about a year ago. The new CEO has revitalized the brand and it’s making headway. But where is T-Mobile making those gains?
“It seems the slice of the customer pie T-Mobile is winning is the youth and those looking for a less expensive monthly bill. While that is working for them, I think it’s important to realize with T-Mobile that coverage and network speeds are much lower than what Verizon and AT&T offer,” Kagan said. “That’s not to say the less expensive way is not worth considering. However, it often means you will not get the same speeds and coverage and service as with the larger, national providers.”
As for the Verizon suit, T-Mobile may be fighting an uphill battle. According to a March 5 report from RootMetrics, Verizon Wireless is the best overall performer on a national scale. AT&T Mobility is the fastest data network nationally. Sprint and T-Mobile are in a distant third and fourth place, respectively.
“This is where the public relations image for T-Mobile, which is growing stronger every day, simply doesn’t match their performance,” Kagan said. “Sometimes it’s a matter of network coverage. Sometimes it’s a matter of speed. Whatever the reason, T-Mobile has a long way to go in order to start playing in the same league as Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility.”