“Try the network, try what we’re doing, and if it doesn’t work, these pricks will pay you to come back,” is a real quote from the ballsy T-Mobile CEO during his press conference this afternoon at CES in Las Vegas. T-Mobile had been teasing its latest addition to its Un-Carrier strategy for some time now. Tuesday night, Legere was kicked out of an AT&T developer party and caused quite an uproar on Twitter afterwards. The man knows how to create a buzz.
Today, they finally unveiled what we’d all been suspecting for the last week – the operator will pay you to come to its network. “It’s not just a promotion like the other guys are running; this is here to stay,” said Legere as he unveiled the initiative. The plan is aimed at families who are looking to switch operators in order to save money, but are locked into two-year agreements that they’d have to pay boatloads of money to get out of.
Under Un-Carrier 4.0, you’ll be able to port your number to T-Mobile and they’ll pay off your termination fees for up to five lines, up to $350 per line. Aside from that, they’ll give you an instant credit up to $300 for each line for trading in your old device. During the presentation, the company made it seem like trading in your device was a requirement, so we’re reaching out to T-Mobile for clarification on that. If customers are coming from another GSM based carrier and would like to use their unlocked device with T-Mobile instead of purchasing a new one, it seems to go against T-Mobile’s mantra of “freedom,” so we’ll update this article when we hear back.
Customers will be able to use their instant credit towards their new smartphone or tablet, but T-Mobile is making all of its most popular phones a $0-down deal. As long as the customer agrees to pay for the device over 24 months and fit the credit requirement, they’ll be able to walk right out of the store without paying anything for the new device. This is extremely beneficial for families who are moving more than two lines over – they’ll obviously want to keep their new device costs low instead of shelling out $500-$1,000 for new phones.
When the customer’s final bill from their previous carrier arrives, they’ll have to submit it to T-Mobile. From there, T-Mobile will reimburse them the full amount of termination fees paid.
Overall, this is a great move from T-Mobile. It easily squashes AT&T’s attempt to bring customers to its network from T-Mobile by offering $200 for carrier jumpers. I really like this move, but I’m really put off by the device trade-in requirement. Of course, T-Mobile has costs that it needs to make up, here. They’re paying your termination fees and that could cost them a LOT of money. However, they’ve been huge proponents of the “bring your own device” philosophy. If I want to use a device that I purchased outright from a manufacturer or other third party, it should be allowed. Especially if it’s a device that T-Mobile doesn’t offer in its stores. We’ll see if they amend that clause in the future, but it looks like it’s a real solid point for this program. Either way, this is a great deal, and T-Mobile is definitely continuing to play the disrupter.