2015: An Epic Un-carrier Year in Review

By John LegereDecember 28, 2015

It’s that time of year again. Time to take stock of our results and plan ahead for the New Year! Last December, I made some predictions for the wireless industry in 2015 and I wanted to look back and see how I did before I lay down some new predictions for 2016. It’s been an incredible Un-carrier year and we’ve done a LOT to change wireless for consumers everywhere. Here’s what I predicted… and what actually happened.

What I said: “This Un-carrier revolution we started will speed up … to warp speed.”

What actually happened: The changes we triggered with Un-carrier took root this year in ways that even surprised me. Oh sure, there was the usual carrier BS and the same old crap disguised as change, but there was also some real change benefiting all wireless customers:

  1. Remarkably, Verizon − the carrier’s carrier − finally joined us in ending annual service contracts this year. Let me say that again: Verizon ended contracts! Wow. 
  2. Sprint joined us in putting an end to overages, but we won’t rest until the Duopoly – who account for 95%+ of the $2.5 billion this year consumers paid in overages – joins us.
  3. An incredible 122 million US wireless customers are now free from annual service contracts, 57 million Americans are now free to upgrade their phones when they want, and the cost of a MB of data is down 62% since we started Un-carrier. 
  4. Of course, our Amped up Un-carrier moves and our new Un-carrier moves will continue to change wireless for the better in years to come! We were busy this year as we started by bringing the Un-carrier revolution to businesses – arguably the customers most mistreated by the carriers – with Business Un-leashed in March.  We also expanded your coverage to Mexico and Canada.  We introduced a whole new way to get a smartphone whenever you want with JUMP! On Demand.  And, we dropped some jaws when we showed the industry the right way to embrace and optimize mobile video for customers with Binge On.  Just to name a few!

Verdict: Nailed it! This past year, across the entire US wireless industry, Americans enjoyed more mobile freedom and fairness thanks to the Un-carrier. The pace of change is picking up for everyone… but there’s still a TON more to do! Don’t worry. We won’t stop!

What I said: “We’ll go toe-to-toe with Verizon’s network almost everywhere … and win.”

What actually happened: 2015 was all about T-Mobile’s network. Let me share just a few amazing stats:

  • 304 million – the number of Americans we now cover with LTE, up from 264 million this time last year (Verizon reports 308 million, so yeah, we are pretty much everywhere they are.)
  • Doubled – our number of square miles with LTE coverage in 2015
  • 300+ – number of metro areas with our new Extended Range LTE which carries our LTE signal 2x farther geographically and works 4x better within buildings
  • 268 – number of metro areas with Wideband LTE, with some markets seeing speeds up to a blistering 150MBps
  • #1 – ranking of T-Mobile’s LTE network speed according to millions of crowdsourced speed tests
  • #1 – ranking of T-Mobile’s LTE network speed according to the FCC’s Speed Test
  • #1 – ranking of T-Mobile as the best national provider in a survey by a pretty well-known consumer organization!

And we’re STILL first to give our customers advanced network technology, like a 4G LTE Cellspot, Wi-Fi Calling, VoLTE and Advanced Messaging.

Verdict: Done and done! We now cover nearly everyone Verizon reaches—and T-Mobile customers still enjoy the fastest nationwide 4G LTE network. But, we still have work to do, and our network is a top priority. So again, we won’t stop!

What I said: “The competition will continue to bumble along.”

What actually happened: It’s so hard to pick the carriers’ worst bungles of 2015. Here are just a few of my favorite headlines from the past year. I think the headlines speak for themselves!

Verdict: Okay, yeah. This one was too easy. Still, I don’t know about you, but I cannotwait to see what these guys try to pull next year.

What I said: “Wearables and phablets will be the big device stories of 2015 (and maybe some connected cars). The Apple Watch will mark the tipping point when wearables go from niche to mainstream.”

What actually happened: Americans will spend upwards of $4.25 billion on wearables this year, up 93% over 2014. The number of smartwatches and fitness trackers sold are forecast to jump 205% this year alone. Apple Watch was a huge driver of that growth and is projected to dominate the category for several years. And phablets − defined as smartphones with screens bigger than 4.7 inches – will make up a full 40% of all device sales in 2015 compared to just 9% in 2012. And, yep, even lots of connected car activity – even though it is clear that AT&T is using connected cars to try and distract from how badly we are beating them with consumers!

Verdict: Called it. Is there any doubt these were HUGE device stories in 2015?

What I said: “I’ll be in conversation with nearly 2M Twitter followers (at the very least 1.5M...) by the end of the year. Oh, and the creepy Legere Doll will have more followers than all carrier CEOs combined.”

What actually happened: In 2015, I flew past 1.5 million and – yes -- am now talking with close to 2 million followers (1.94 million as of today!). I’m on Twitter every single day, and I’ve had an absolute blast hearing from you over this past year. Where do you think Binge On came from? Yes, that’s right – feedback from our customers helped us to launch Binge On! And Legere Doll? The little guy slacked off. Today, he has just over 3,000 followers. So we’re gonna have to talk. That compares to the nearly 100,000 who follow Marcelo Claure, the current CEO at Sprint (who I think we still consider to be in the wireless business, though just barely).

Verdict: So close! If you’re reading this and haven’t followed me yet, you could be number 2 million! You’ll never see the corporate BS the other guys spew! And @LegereDoll, get to it, buddy!

What I said: “DC is going to be very busy on regulatory issues for the Wireless Industry.”

What actually happened: In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission rolled out its massive, 400-page net neutrality rulebook. Then this past summer, they published their final rules for the upcoming incentive spectrum auction, upholding the spectrum reserve for smaller carriers, so The Evil Twins can’t tighten their chokehold on US wireless. And while they were busy on regulatory issues, they also released their Wireless Competition Report showing what our customers already know – T-Mobile has blazing fast network speeds and vastly improved coverage.

Verdict: It was a busy, historic year for the FCC and for the important cause of maintaining a free and open Internet and moving toward a more open and competitive US wireless industry—which ultimately benefits all Americans.

What I said: “MetroPCS will pull even further ahead of the prepaid pack.”

What actually happened: In the first three quarters of 2015 alone, we added nearly 900k new prepaid customers, bringing the total number of MetroPCS and T-Mobile prepaid customers to 17.2 million. Sprint, meanwhile, was a distant second with a loss of 183k prepaid customers, bringing their total to 15 million prepaid customers.

Verdict: Nailed it! The competition just keeps getting smaller and smaller in Metro’s rearview mirror. I can’t wait to tell you what we have planned in 2016 to blow that gap wide open.

What I said: “We’ll bring Un-carrier to whole new groups of people.”

What actually happened: In 2015, we declared Smartphone Equality to give absolutely everyone a way to plug in to the Mobile Age and get the best deals in wireless—previously available only to those with great credit. Then, we did for businesses what we’d already done for US consumers with 100% transparent pricing, the best rates, business family discounts and more. Ever since, T-Mobile has been growing faster in business − and taking more business customers from the carriers − than anywhere else. And, it’s not just small businesses. One in three Fortune 500 businesses are now with T-Mobile.

Verdict: Whole new groups…and then some! But, there’s still work to do for consumers, businesses and everyone this industry has abused for years. And still oh so many industry pain points to fix!

What I said:  “T-Mobile will - officially - become the No. 3 wireless company in America in 2015.”

What actually happened:  We officially became No. 3 in US wireless in Q3 2015. I had expected to pass them a bit earlier (like I’ve said before – give them credit for swinging the bat, but I don’t need them to fail for T-Mobile to succeed!) and I could have claimed we were #3 sooner (based on their atypical accounting of customers), but I don’t need to. We are officially #3 and are completely focused ahead on the Duopoly! Enough said.

Verdict:  Check this one off, too! T-Mobile is on fire, and we are doing it without dramatic promotions and copycat moves.

So, overall not a bad batting average for 2015, am I right? But there is still so much left to do! Look for my 2016 predictions coming tomorrow. Like a lot of what I say, some of it may sound crazy… but that’s what they said when I started this whole Un-carrier thing and that seems to be working out OK! Oh, and fair warning…. Verizon in particular won’t like some of my predictions tomorrow… So stay tuned - because this is going to be fun!