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T-mobile data plan and network shaping Part 1 | Carriers

Here is how TMO is re-shaping its data services

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This is part 1 of an analysis conducted on T-Mobile data services as it compares and contrasts to its competitors and TMO internal marketing strategy.

Setting expectations

When it comes to the mobile experience I think we can all conclude that the data provider or, ‘carrier’ is the one entity we love to hate the most. They are the necessary evil that provides the gateway to all that is awesome in mobile technology.

The data connection is the single point mechanism that allows real-time dynamics in mobile computing. Without it, your operating system never gets updated, personal and professional mobile tele-communications are not possible, web content cannot be consumed and mobile content you create cannot be propagated. Because of this mechanism, it is very important for carriers not to do stupid things…like lie, bundle, over charge, charge for services not provided,  sell private customer information and a few other common sense things that reflect  poor leadership and lack of ethical and moral compass can do to fertilize the vilification of carriers.

Some carriers, like AT&T are simply poorly managed. I say managed because it is my assessment that AT&T has no functional leadership, and part of that has a lot to do with Apple and the iPhone exclusivity deal with AT&T that allowed them to grow at a rate they were too dysfunctional to support, and had to resort to bait and switch, mid-contract changes in service and level of effort. When you couple those with poor employee training and a focus on the dollar instead of the customer, the result is the best and fastest mobile technology infrastructure and services provider in the United States, reduced to a not-funny joke of its former self.

Full disclosure

I have stated many times that your last Carrier is the one you hate the most, and your current carrier is the one you hate the least. I have been with TMO before. They were the first mobile voice and data services provider I granted my, ‘customer-ship’ to.

TMO also holds the honor of the first carrier I hated the most. Then it was Verizon. Then AT&T. Then Verizon again. Then AT&T again. The significance of my last AT&T experience was that – it was so terrible, I elected to cancel my service with them mid-contract with 6 months left , eat the early-term penalty (~$450), and then go without cell service for 3 months because the iPhone 6 hadn’t been released, and I didn’t want to jump into another contract with another douchebag service provider that wasn’t interested in keeping the covenants set forth in the contract.

More buff, less fluff

Gimmicks, free pizza, discounts on temporary or promotional based services might attract some interest in your services and capabilities, but long-term relationships from people who allow you to auto-steal money from their bank account every month in an amount that can easily reach $200 aren’t interested in that kind foolery. We just want what we agreed upon.

Do you want to know what people really want from the carrier they hate the least?

  •  Speed
  • Reliability
  • Honesty
  • Customer Focus
  • Customer Service
  • No surprises

This is the formula to mastering the stewardship of trust your customer has rented to you. It is always a temporary arrangement, but will last as long as you cover those 6 bases.

This isn’t rocket science. But you might think it was by the customer chat experience I got from TMO today, and it was reinforced to the point of a marketing disinformation campaign when I visited the TMO website.

  • Unlimited shit

What I don’t want, is for TMO to turn into AT&T. I like hating TMO the least, and I hope it stays that way, but having Carrier-not-locked devices and no-contract agreements make it very easy and painless to tell a carrier to piss-off…for any reason.

Or for no reason at all.

I like how TMO has matured to the fastest (in data speed) network operator in the US. This was not always the case. In fact, less that 12 months ago, TMO still had to lease AT&T and Verizon infrastructure to augment the TMO effort and commitment to coverage. A tribute to the jackassery of AT&T…is that if you are on TMO leased AT&T infrastructure, AT&T will purposefully degrade the speed so the experience is terrible.

But in their ill-thought-out strategy, AT&T seems oblivious to the first thing a user does when their mobile network speed sucks…they look at the carrier logo. This provides a cognitive visual that is cemented with an emotional anchor of frustration that ensures a long-lasting memory that AT&T sucks.

Because it does.

The Situation

Two days ago I got a text notification that I had  expended  36 GB of my 38 GB monthly allotment.  T-Mobile markets their services as, “unlimited data”.  Now I will be the first to admit that 38 GB of data per month is a very generous pot of data.  However, the public school educated person that is me still has a problem believing that 38 GB of data equates to the description of, ‘unlimited’. While there is a possibility that I could be, ‘fooled’ or perhaps be made to temporarily forget or be re-educated that 38GB and, ‘unlimited’ really are equivalent, it would take a lot of Free Tuesday pizza to accomplish this reprogramming of my simple brain.

Every Tuesday. Free Pizza.

Here is where TMO gets to decide where to spend its earned performance capital. This capital is expended in the court of public opinion to sway current or prospective customers, who – by the way – also fund infrastructure growth. T-Mobile has earned respect among its peers, especially when comparing and contrasting performance metrics like data speed, reliability, coverage and cost.

When I was with AT&T, I didn’t mind paying $140 for a single tether capable data lI ever, because it was, ‘unlimited’ and it was the fastest network available. But to AT&T, 5GB defined, ‘unlimited’. Granted, there are significant differences between how TMO services their customer, and how AT&T has trouble spelling the word, ‘customer’, but changing semantics and attempting to redefine 4 syllable words using a combination of 2 numbers and 2 letters and an asterisk declaring, ‘we don’t throttle everyone like AT&T.’, just doesn’t seem to be the smartest way to go about changing the narrative to fit your strategic network operations.

Rather than change (or omit) one word, ‘unlimited’, from its marketing, TMO decided spend its performance capital on a test to see how stupid their customers are, rather than follow the above 6 steps to mobile customer mastery:

  • Speed
  • Reliability
  • Honesty
  • Customer Focus
  • Customer Service
  • No surprises

Because I was not expecting there to be a limit on unlimited data, I was disappointed to say the least. And because of the obvious effort put into re-constructing the narrative that unlimited ~25Mbps throughput and unlimited ~.5Mpbs services when combined is what your customer was expecting when they made the decision to patron your services, No Surprises and Honesty are no longer values you wish to espouse.

The stupid
Most users?


Reliability, Speed and the Customer analysis comes in Part 2


Thats brutal honesty right there.



Also published on Medium.

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