T-Mobile Tweaks JUMP Phone Upgrade Plan

T-Mobile is kicking off its promised series of updates to its first nine "Uncarrier" moves by tweaking its JUMP subsidy-free smartphone upgrade program, doing away with the $10 monthly fee and letting customers upgrade to a new device at any time rather than just every six months.

Called JUMP On Demand, the new plan lets T-Mobile US Inc. customers upgrade to a new smartphone up to three times a year, with zero out-of-pocket expenses for qualified users and one monthly payment that encompasses the cost of the smartphone. JUMP, or "Just Upgrade My Phone," was Uncarrier 2.0, announced in July 2013, enabling T-Mobile customers to trade in their old, functioning handsets for a new, subsidized device twice a year. (See T-Mobile: Might As Well JUMP and T-Mobile's JUMP is Live.)

Like most of its (and any carriers') programs, however, there's a small catch on this one: While T-Mobile is doing away with the $10 per month fee originally tacked on to JUMP plans, it's also removing insurance from the plans. If a customer wants to add it back on, it'll cost an additional $8 per month.

In a video blog announcing the new program, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said that more than 10 million consumers have signed on to JUMP, upgrading their phones 30% faster than anyone else -- every 14 months compared to the industry average of 20.

To read more about T-Mobile's previous nine "Uncarrier" announcements, peruse the mobile content section here on Light Reading.

T-Mobile's JUMP plan was one Uncarrier move that all of the other big three carriers responded to in some form, ultimately shaking up the industry standard of two-year contracts and decoupling the cost of the smartphone from the cost of the service plan. All have been fairly successful for the carriers and have had the effect of shifting their revenues from services to hardware. (See Verizon Focuses on Cashing In on LTE.)

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) immediately responded by introducing its own subsidy-free Next plans that let its customers upgrade devices once per year. Verizon Wireless introduced Edge equipment installment plans, but requires its customers to pay off their original handset before they can upgrade. And Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) unveiled its own smartphone leasing plans. (See AT&T's Next to Shorten Wait for Device Upgrades, Verizon's 4G Strength Keeps It Above the Fray and Sprint's iPhone-Only Plans Got Apple's Blessing.)

Legere has promised more upgrades in the coming weeks, through announcements he's calling Uncarrier Amped, making its most popular plans and promos "even bigger, even better, even ballsier."

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

kq4ym 6/27/2015 | 9:13:10 AM
Re: savings It's interesting how many creative ways there are to mix up the formulas to get into the pockets of the consumers. And of course making it a bit confusing, and hiding the "gotcha" is all part of the game we have to play each time there's a marketing change. And even so one wonders if there's really any significant saving between the different players anyway, at least in the long term.
mhhf1ve 6/25/2015 | 5:39:20 PM
Re: savings T-mobile's network isn't as reliable as say VZW, but... it's pretty good in some areas. That's always been true for wireless carriers, tho? Sprint isn't exactly great everywhere, either. The whole "Can you hear me now?" ad campaign was meant to remind everyone that not all wireless service providers have access to the same high quality spectrum -- something that T-mobile's CEO has been trying to get the FCC to do something to improve (without costing T-mobile the billions it requires to bid on the best low band spectrum, that is).

I wish Google or some other MVNO could combine together multiple networks to make a more reliable one... I'm not sure if Tracphone does this in a single phone, but it would be nice if such aggregation were more common....
mhhf1ve 6/25/2015 | 5:32:49 PM
Re: savings T-Mobile supports unlocked phones, but I think this plan makes it slightly more convenient to upgrade (in that you don't have to sell your old phone yourself?). I'm not exactly sure how the pricing works out, tho... I'll have to look into that.
Mitch Wagner 6/25/2015 | 4:31:34 PM
Re: savings How does the pricing and cost work out here? Do consumers pay full retail price for the phone? Why not just buy an unlocked phone and use it with the T-Mobile network? Or does T-Mobile not support that?
danielcawrey 6/25/2015 | 2:45:47 PM
Re: savings I like that T-Mobile is trying to really upend the wireless market. The only problem? I don't think their service is very good. You can provide as many awesome phones and subsidiary services you want. But if you cannot provide quality service wherever I am, then what is the point?
Sarah Thomas 6/25/2015 | 11:15:38 AM
savings So, is the gamble here that most people will want insurance, so they're only out an extra $2 per month? I imagine the sales people will definitely push the insurance when its customers are making this switch. They did at Verizon (almost as hard as they pushed the Edge plan) for me. It's still a great, consumer-friendly move from T-Mobile, but they are never quite as good as they seem.
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