T-Mobile hadn’t changed the world in the last 25 minutes. For them, that means it’s time to try to disrupt something else. T-Mobile held its Un-carrier 5.0 event last night in Seattle. If that wasn’t enough, they didn’t wait to announce Un-carrier 6.0. And if you still wanted more, T-Mobile had something else up its sleeve to complete the trifecta. In typical John Legere fashion, it was profoundly NSFW and took lots of shots at the three major competitors. Let’s take a look at what they announced and how they change both the buying experience and mobile music.
Un-carrier 5.0: 7-Day Test Drive
Un-carrier 5.0 is a free 7-day test drive for T-Mobile’s network for curious would be switchers. Let me back up a step here because it’s a bit of a joint venture. The Test Drive is only available with the iPhone 5S since the phones are provided by Apple to raise awareness of the iPhone on the T-Mobile network. It’s a bit of an advertising effort to be sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good deal. Customers can pre-register at T-Mobile.com/TestDrive. As long as they have a valid credit or debit card to pay for damages, you can sign up for the phone. Let it be known there is a $699 hold placed on your card during the trial period. It’s not charged if you bring the phone back damage free. When your time is up, you return the iPhone to a T-Mobile corporate store, it can’t be a reseller. Also note that these phones have pre-assigned numbers. If you want to receive your calls, you have to set up call forwarding from your number to the T-Mobile phone. If you’re already a T-Mobile customer looking for a trial of a new phone on their network, you can have the 7-day test drive, too.
Un-carrier 6.0: Music Freedom
That’s the end of Un-carrier 5.0, but the night isn’t over yet. There’s Un-carrier 6.0 as well. This is all about streaming music: Music Freedom. Streaming to 8 services, including Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Slacker, iTunes Radio, Rhapsody, Samsung’s Milk Music, and Beatport will no longer count against your data usage. Absent were now Apple-owned Beats Music, Google Play Music, and newly announced Amazon Prime Music. There will be a voting mechanism for T-Mobile to add new services to the list. Music Freedom isn’t a partnership with any of the above music services. T-Mobile is unilaterally deciding not to charge for this data.
If that wasn’t enough, T-Mobile launched its own music service called UnRadio. The service is in partnership with fellow Seattle-based business Rhapsody. It’ll be station-based and have over 20 million songs in its catalog. UnRadio is completely ad-free with no limits on skips. For pricing, it’ll be $5 a month. T-Mobile customers will get a $1 discount and get the service for $4. Unlimited data customers will get UnRadio for free.
T-Mobile gave a report on its network. They’ve deployed wide band LTE, with 15x15MHz spectrum in 16 markets. That’s good for around 150mbps down and 40 up. T-Mobile has also launched Voice Over LTE in 15 markets with full nationwide deployment by the end of 2014. During the Q&A, Legere was asked about merger rumors with Sprint and while he would not comment specifically said, gaining capital and spectrum through a merger was an option if it made sense.
T-Mobile came back into the spotlight with a triple whammy. You can know try their network for a week without any risk and customers can listen to music for free from leading providers. They even have their own service now, albeit with help. It has me wondering what’s left for Un-Carrier 7.0 scheduled for late summer.
Love it, hate it, or in between, let us know how you feeling about the latest Un-carrier event. Leave a comment below or on social media.