T-Mobile Gives Customers Shares, Updates on 5G, LTE-U

T-Mobile's CEO claims that the latest Un-carrier move will help to hand over part ownership of the operator to its customers, as the Magenta boss gave his typically brusque take on loyalty programs Monday afternoon.

One much-vaunted part of T-Mobile's new loyalty program is that the operator is giving each T-Mobile consumer subscriber, who pays for a monthly contract with the operator (not MetroPCS), a share of company stock, if they download the new "T-Mobile Tuesday" loyalty app.

"This has never been done before," John Legere claimed on a press call Monday. "And this means that our customers are now our boss."

Customers can get up to 100 more shares a year by recommending others to join T-Mobile.

The carrier is hoping to move up to a million shares initially. "This will not be dilutive to any existing shareholders," said CFO Braxton Carter. "Our third-party partner buys them and then rolls them back to the customers."

Furthermore, the operator is planning to give away pizzas, movie tickets and more through the new app. The operator is also opening up free messaging in the sky -- on iMessenger, Viber and Google Hangouts -- for T-Mobile customers on domestic US flights. Subscribers will also get an hour of free Gogo in-flight WiFi on US flights.

More on 5G and LTE
Asked about 5G on the call, Legere said it has already gone "through a cycle of ridiculousness." He claimed that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), in particular, had overstated the early importance of 5G.

"Verizon got in front of their skis," agreed CTO Neville Ray on the call.

"We're as active as anybody else," Ray said of pre-standard 5G trials. He said the important consumer and mobility elements of 5G aren't arriving until 2019 or 2020.

"I think you're going to see standards work through over the next two or three years," said Ray, but "'19 is the best-case scenario" for the mobility and consumer elements for the CTO.

Meanwhile the CTO is planning to further update the operator's LTE network this year. The network now covers 309 million people in the US. The updates will include "higher level" multiple input multiple output (MIMO) and carrier aggregation, Ray says.

T-Mobile had hoped to deploy commercial LTE-Unlicensed in 2016, but that seems less likely and it might get pushed back to early 2017. Ray says the network equipment is ready but he's not sure the smartphones will be. "We're not happy about it, obviously." (See T-Mobile Sounds Off on Verizon 5G, LTE-U Frustrations.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

kq4ym 6/19/2016 | 10:06:51 AM
Re: great experiment! Seems to be a bit of a gamble giving out up to a million shares of stock. But, then again customers who take the offer may very well be gambling as well, not only hoping the stock price increases over time, but that the T-Mobile contract will end up well too.
jayakd0 6/7/2016 | 9:33:10 AM
great experiment! Customer is indeed the key stakeholder in any organisation. But by making her/him a share holder also financially, it could trigger a chain reaction (of growth) provided the organisation creates enough value for her/him and friends with service excellence. Great experiment, look forward to the results :)
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