Why aren't you switching to T-Mobile?

Published: January 9, 2014

T-Mobile is on a roll, isn't it? They've been building this whole "un-carrier" thing for quite some time now, and with their latest move, aimed yet again specifically at the other carriers just as much as itself, the Magenta network is still beating those war drums. They could have said, "That's good enough," when they told everyone that they were moving away from those pesky contracts, or even just upgrading your device every six months. But they haven't. They just keep adding things, and taking away a lot of the volume in the "big network" competition.

We do have to call it as we see it. T-Mobile has been around awhile, but they've never been able to really drum up support from folks out there in the wild. The people who want to sign lengthy two-year contracts. So, something big was needed. No, it was *essential*. T-Mobile couldn't just change thins up for T-Mobile. They had to really put some push in changing things up in a large way, across the whole mobile industry. Their movements had to get attention. Because the Magenta carrier needs subscribers.

Just like every other network. The difference, though, is determination.

And T-Mobile's determination is plain as day. They're doing just about everything they can to get people to switch. I think we've all joked at one point or another that T-Mobile, eventually, would just start paying people to switch. It looked like they were leading everyone to that point. And, hey, turns out those jokes were just primer to the real deal.

During this year's Consumer Electronics Show, T-Mobile's CEO John Legere unveiled the fourth installment of the Un-carrier Initiative. In this phase? Pay the early termination fees that folks get when they cancel their contract. These ETFs are based individually on lines, so they can be pretty costly. They tend to be the reason why many, many people don't switch. Now T-Mobile's offering to pay them, for up to five lines on a family plan, just to get you to switch.

That's huge. Now it's just bordering on the idea that T-Mobile is actually being nice. I know, that's a scary thing to think about. The truth is, if T-Mobile had launched any of these movements, or changes, by themselves it wouldn't really matter. Sold one at a time to consumers, it doesn't really change much. However, you look at each of these things as a single, fundamental movement, and you start to realize that T-Mobile's building quite the attractive network for folks who are fed up with the way things have always been.

Last July, I wrote about how I thought everything that T-Mobile was doing, and planned to do, was pretty great, but that it ultimately didn't matter to me. Why? Because I can't use T-Mobile as well as I can, say, AT&T, simply because the Magenta network isn't in more places. Sadly, while T-Mobile has indeed expanded their network in some parts across the United States throughout 2013, and into 2014, that situation hasn't changed much in my neck-of-the-woods.

The thing is, it's getting harder to ignore T-Mobile's efforts. That direction they seem to be moving in. I'm actually actively looking forward to what they announce next. And, I'm looking at T-Mobile coverage maps again and again, trying to persuade myself that dealing with fewer areas of LTE is a good thing. But, I don't think I can live without LTE when I'm away from a Wi-Fi connection.

In the end, T-Mobile's done a good job of positioning the conversation about mobile networks away from coverage maps, at least for a little bit. Unfortunately, it always has to come back to that. It just has to. No matter how great your plans, ideas or movements are, if you don't have a network blanket that covers the people who want it? They can't get it. T-Mobile's effort in 2014, while continuing to ruffle features, has to be to expand their network. Improve what's already there to their LTE network, while also making sure that areas that are still under the 2G curtain get upgraded all around.

But, I want to know what you think about all this. I want to hear from you, and why you aren't using T-Mobile right now. Or why you don't plan on switching. Does it come down to network coverage for you, or is there something else that's keeping you from waving the Magenta flag? Let me know.

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