VodkaPundit

Three Cheers for T?

Good news for T-Mobile customers:

T-Mobile really seems to get what people hate about their wireless carriers. Contracts. Limits on trade-ins. Outrageous international roaming rates. After taking aim at the first two, the company that calls itself the “uncarrier” has now declared its intent to undermine the profits its competitors squeeze from Americans traveling abroad—a topic that reliably produces horror stories that can strike fear in the smartphone-toting jetset. On Wednesday, T-Mobile said it was getting rid of international data roaming fees altogether and offering a simple, cheap plan for international voice service.

This is part of T-Mobile’s (TMUS) ongoing bid to hoist itself back to relevance in the U.S.

It’s getting more and more difficult for us to stick with AT&T, but not because the service is usually second rate. In our neighborhood, Verizon almost doesn’t exist, making AT&T’s questionable LTE and dubious 4G better than nearly nothing. I don’t know anyone who uses T-Mobile, so I don’t know how well they cover Monument Hill, but stories like today’s tell me something important about T-Mobile.

They seem to understand that carriers have become the “dumb pipes” they always dreaded becoming. That is to say, before the iPhone, it was the carriers who gave added value to your wireless service. Anything cool you wanted your phone to do, including just making calls, had to be blessed by and approved of by the carriers. And they charged you through the nose for it.

Apple changed all that with the iPhone. Here was a product so well designed and easy to use, that it let an outsider — Apple — dictate terms to the carrier. At first the only carrier was AT&T, who allowed Apple to design their own “visual voicemail” and run it on AT&T’s network. Then the App Store opened about a year later, and suddenly customers could do pretty much whatever the hell they wanted with their phones, and AT&T couldn’t do squat about it. Before long, Apple introduced “Messages,” effectively replacing AT&T pricey texting service. Android followed gleefully along, driving the knife in deeper. The same thing soon happened to Verizon and the other carriers, too.

They’re all just dumb pipes now — but they still charge their customers as if they’re the ones providing the extra value, even though that job is being done now by Apple and by Android.

T-Mobile seems to get that. They’re getting rid of the BS, just like they’re getting rid of the Forever Subsidies you pay if you buy your phone from someone else, but keep it longer than two years.

So, unless AT&T wants to follow suit, I might just be changing carriers when my current contract is up.

How about you?