August 30, 2014

What T-mobile should do about "4G"

Ever since HSPA+ was announced, there have been whispers of T-Mobile calling the upgrade  an enhancement to 4G service. After the network was deployed, and handsets started being released, the whispers grew into unreleased marketing material. Now that there is a phone in which multiple meanings of the name would apply, the term is being used on a phone. The MyTouch 4G is the fourth generation of MyTouch, but it is also the second phone with their new HSPA+ radio. Is this the right message? Should T-Mobile be ok with calling their network 4G?

Let’s bear in mind that there is no 4G. As far as the ITU-R, which is the international council that determines the network specifications for classifications, is concerned there are no US 4G networks, and none of the networks ready to be deployed meet the requirements. Sprint’s 4G network – a sham. The current deployment of Wi-Max in the US is not ready to be used as or called 4G. At least Wi-Max is supposed to be 4G, unlike LTE whose full designator is 3GPLTE, the Long Term Evolution of 3G. HSPA+ is not as fast as what these networks COULD one day be, They are, however, faster than what these networks ARE NOW. Because of that unique advantage, and the fact that T-Mobile was able to deploy HSPA+ to a much larger footprint as it is not a different technology, I see it as T-Mobile has two choices. They can jump on board and say “we have the biggest 4G network” or they can take it to these other carriers and say “our 3G network is faster than their 4G network… so what are you paying for again?”.

Remember, Sprint charges anyone with a 4G phone an extra $10/month even if they can’t use it in their area, and every carrier seems to be “optimizing” their data plans, so this could be the perfect time for T-Mobile to attract holiday customers with a more aggressive marketing plan. Plus, Verizon won’t really have LTE out in any meaningful fashion for awhile, so the next couple of months are critical to getting the customers in new contracts while they can. What do you think, should T-Mobile play as dirty as everyone else, or change their tact to include a more aggressive but truthful approach?