T-Mobile has come out with a dramatically new way of handling post paid cellular service. No more contracts, and the option to allow consumers to bring their own phone, buy a new one outright, or pay in installments. They provide unlimited voice, and unlimited SMS, and you pay extra for data. However, there are a couple of things that T-Mobile could have done differently.
Google Voice Integration
It’s not impossible. Sprint does it very successfully. Essentially, on the backbone, the carrier connects with Google Voice’s service. The phone number, international service, and voice mail is handled by Google Voice. The actual means of connecting is handled by the carrier.
If this would have been done, it could attract those that uses Google Voice as they can use any phone from an Android, or the new iPhone, or a basic phone and Windows Phone which has no support with Google Voice.
Better Clarification on EIP
EIP is the Easy Installment Plan which reduces the sticker shock of the phone. In the United States, we have been spoiled into seeing top of the line smart phones as $200 rather than $700. Now, I am not saying that the manufacturer is fair in charging $700 for a phone, but I am sure some people will walk into T-Mobile and go away sobbing as they go to the nearest AT&T store.
They should note make it clear on who qualifies for the EIP. Also, what happens when one terminates service before completing the payments. Since I used EIP a few times before, I know that you are responsible for the remaining payment in full along with the last bill, and any ETF, but not everyone will figure that out.
More plan Options
Here’s the thing, not everyone uses voice services, or requires unlimited voice. Those hearing impaired for example may need SMS, or data. Now, mind you there is unlimited SMS, but I feel to attract more customers, T-Mobile should have offered 2 choices of unlimited, and one choice of 500. This means instead of having unlimited voice/SMS, and 500MB of data – you can have unlimited data/SMS and 500 minutes of voice. Or maybe unlimited data/voice, and 500 SMS messages. Of course, there is an issue of overages, but this would have gone a long way to satisfying every potential customer. One would simply spend an extra $20 for the 500 option to be unlimited.
Some phones support Name ID which is an add on feature that allows a person to have true caller ID. However, in reality, this could be done in the network automatically. Of course it would have cost money to upgrade the network, but then everyone could have this feature. Currently, this is an carrier installed app. So, for people like me that have a Nexus 4, I could never use the service since I can’t even get the app in the Play Store.
They could also do this with their TV app, and other services. Just offer it for download to T-Mobile customers through the OS’s store, and offer these as options. Another option will be to offer free Directory Assistance. Companies such as Cricket offers this as well as a number of VOIP providers. One can only assume that a simple tweak on how 411 is handled will make a world of difference.
Kill Retroactive Contracts
They could do this for customer that qualifies as a loyal customer. If the customer has been a good customer, and with them for a long time, there is no need to force them to stay in contracts that were signed before a couple of days ago.
Offer a Referral Code
Allow T-Mobile customers to offer a referral code for getting new customers. Maybe with this code, there could be $50 off a new phone, while the customer gets a free month. This will encourage their customers to help promote T-Mobile to others and therefore lower advertising costs.
Prepaid or Post-Paid, Same Price
Right now, T-Mobile is focusing on the post paid plan. However, rather than having two sets of plans, it might make more sense to have the same level and features of services whether post paid, or prepaid. The only difference is prepaid pays for the service they will use and not require a credit check. Post-paid can require a credit check and pays for the service after it is used.
Provide Lifeline Option
Lifeline provides basic services for people that are low income to get basic cellular services. A number of companies offer this. Cricket gives a $10 discount which isn’t much for the $50 or more plans they have. Assurance is a Virgin Mobile Branch which provides a limited number of minutes, and SMS, while Safelink is a branch of Tracfone.
T-Mobile can offer one unlimited option (no tethering or SIP on data), and 500 for the other two features. Rather than trying to get them to buy a phone they can not afford, work with a company like Blu Products to provide a basic Android phone (that will work on their 3G bands) which could be exclusively for needy customers. The federal government will provide payment for these customers, and the customers can pay for more services – therefore relieving the cost of service. While not much in the way of desired customers, it does raise their population, and may make them number 3 rather than number 4.