Despite some doubts about the longevity of Verizon’s unlimited boost, it seems the new plans are paying some dividends after all.
T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert said at an investor conference on Thursday the Un-carrier’s porting ratios versus AT&T and Sprint have improved from the second quarter last year, but acknowledged Verizon has “gained ground” from where it was a year ago. Sievert partially attributed the bump to Verizon’s introduction of unlimited data plans and promotional phone offers, or, as he put it, the way the carrier is “throwing the kitchen sink at it right now.”
But another element in the mix, Sievert noted, is the current lull in the competitive market.
“On one hand, we like it because we don’t have to push as hard into the market to create growth, which is great,” Sievert explained. “On the other hand, it results in less overall industry switching and we’re the beneficiaries of industry switching. So we have to do moves to create switching.”
According to Sievert, those moves include previous Un-carrier offers like paying off early termination fees and device payment plans for switchers. And the need to drive switching will likely be behind another Un-carrier move coming soon.
On T-Mobile’s first quarter earnings call last month, CEO John Legere teased the upcoming launch, which he said is due out this quarter.
“If I announce the topical area that we think is gigantically poised for fixing, it may give away too much as to what the topic is,” Legere hinted. “But there’s one that we’re working on that we’ll do this quarter that is so intuitively obvious of a gigantic shortcoming of the wireless industry that we’re going to attack it, and we’re going to attack it soon.”
Switchers aside, T-Mobile also sees room for growth in a number of markets across the country as it lights up its newly won 600 MHz spectrum. In its leading markets, like New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, T-Mobile’s market share is as high as 30+ percent, Un-carrier execs said. But in other areas where T-Mobile has had a network for a long time, the network has only been adequate for roaming coverage rather than in-building coverage. It is in those places where the Un-carrier currently only has single-digit market share that it sees the longest runway.
“I think there are many parts of the country where we have essentially no penetration,” CFO Braxton Carter observed. “And one of my hopes as we continue to expand to the other third of the country over the next couple years is that’s going to be a very significant growth adjacency that will provide more efficiency, allowing us to continue to organically scale as rapidly as possible … Everything we’ve done over the last four years is where we always have done business. But if we can continue this type of growth momentum in places that are green field, where all your production is going into net additions because you’re not replacing that organic churn coming off the base, we can actually be more efficient with our spends going forward.”