Culture

In a Brash Move T-Mobile CEO Sets His Sights on Cable TV Industry

(Image by fanaticTRX via Wikipedia)

T-Mobile is one of those companies you love to see succeed because they play by different rules than their conservative and lumbering competitors. They are much more customer focused. Once the lowly number four cellular provider with its poor service, they shook up the industry by offering free worldwide data and twenty cents per minute calls when traveling out of the country. They drastically reduced the costs of their monthly plans by separating out the cost of the phone from the monthly bill, while their competitors continued to charge a monthly phone fee, even when your phone was paid off.

None of these benefits would be worth much, however, unless they improved their cell service, and they’ve been doing that as well. They now rank among the top two across much of the country and have the fastest data rates in many areas.

I use both Verizon and T-Mobile cellular service and, while I find Verizon has slightly broader coverage where I travel, T-Mobile is very close behind, and I’d use it as my only phone.

T-Mobile’s president and CEO John Legere announced today that he wants to do to TV service what he’s done with cellular. The company intends to launch a new TV service, based on technology they acquired from the company Layer3 TV, Inc.

Legere noted, “People love their TV, but they hate their TV providers. And worse, they have no real choice but to simply take it – the crappy customer service, clunky technology and outrageous bills loaded with fees!” He added, “That’s where we come in. We’re gonna fix the pain points and bring real choice to consumers across the country. It only makes sense for the Un-carrier to do to TV what we’re doing to wireless: change it for good! Personally, I can’t wait to start fighting for consumers here!”

Legere, not surprisingly, noted that the cable industry ranks as America’s #1 most-hated industry. Eight of the ten brands with the lowest customer satisfaction scores in America are cable and TV providers

Their timing is good, as we are changing how, when, where, and what we watch on TV. We’re consuming lots of new content from a variety of new sources, and we’re doing it using a multitude of devices, including phones, tablets, computers, and TVs.

In the cities where it now works, including Los Angeles and Chicago, Layer3 provides its own optical cable hookup for your home, much like you get from Cable TV. This gets around using a middleman like Comcast. A benefit is that it can manage what it sends you and can tailor what to watch based on what you consume. And it can do that for every member of a family.

The brashness and confidence of their CEO may come from the fact that T-Mobile continues to grow its subscribers, while their competitors are struggling not to lose theirs. T-Mobile has been gaining a million subscribers per quarter and is furthest along with upgrading to the new faster 5G cellular speeds.

Legere said he plans to take on all of the cable companies, including Charter, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Frontier, and Fox, just as he took on Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon. While many failed to take him seriously then, I expect this time that won’t be the case. Much like cellular pricing and service, the cable industry could use a shakeup.