Introducing Smartphone Equality and bringing greater fairness to the wireless industry

January 21, 2015

Here’s one of the wireless industry’s dirtier little secrets – half of Americans can never get the deals this industry spends billions shouting about.  That’s right. Last year, the carriers spent billions advertising sweet prices and plans, “free” iPhones, zero down or some other screaming deal. So 1 out of every 2 people walks into a store only to find they don’t qualify, because they’re not “well qualified.” How insulting is that?

And, they’re not alone. The fact is that 63 percent of Americans have a less than the perfect credit score. Which means that more than half of all Americans are denied the best deals. They either have to fork over more cash –both upfront and over time – or walk out the door empty-handed.

This should shock you. And we’ve been a part of the problem, too. But no more.

When I sat down to write this blog, I realized how much this pisses me off, so I wanted to tell it to you myself. So, I thought this was a great reason to do my very first video blog right here:

Today, I’m announcing a new approach we’re taking at T-Mobile that gives absolutely everyone a way to get the best deals we offer − deals previously available only to those with great credit. We call it Smartphone Equality.

For years, companies have based decisions about who gets the best prices and even access to basic products and services solely on credit scores churned out by software from a credit bureau – some nameless, faceless bureaucracy, which in turn based those numbers on data scraped together from your past.

Remember that credit card payment that didn’t get in on time back in the depths of the Great Recession? Why should that haunt you seven years later?

With today’s announcement, every T-Mobile customer who’s paid their wireless phone bill on time for 12 straight months will qualify for our very best device pricing on every smartphone and tablet we sell − including zero down with no interest and no credit check. This new approach puts the relationships we’ve built with loyal customers above their credit scores. It’s a simpler, saner way to evaluate credit − our history with you. And it’s more effective. Because the simple truth is that our relationship with that customer is actually a better predictor of future behavior than their credit history.

Ultimately, this initiative will lower the barrier for millions more Americans to get a smartphone – the most transformational technology in our lifetime. At a time when mobile connectivity is sweeping the globe, the United States ranks a miserable 13th in the world in terms of smartphone penetration − behind a dozen countries including Australia, Ireland, Israel and Saudi Arabia among others. There are more than 100 million American adults who don’t have a smartphone according to data from Pew Research and the US Census Bureau. That’s 100 million too many.

In today’s world, the smartphone is anything but a luxury. It’s a lifeline. It’s your source of news and information, your compass and your map. It’s how you stay safe and stay connected to family and friends. It’s how you do your banking and how you find a job. In other words, it’s an absolute necessity. The smartphone has become critical to plugging in to economic opportunity and participating in the global conversation.

This is not a “First World problem” we’re solving today. It’s a critical issue when a handful of companies in a single industry can play gatekeeper to the Mobile Age − and shut out millions and millions of Americans.

This is just one step we’re taking toward our goal of getting the power and promise of the mobile Internet into the hands of every American. But you can bet it won’t be our last. Stay tuned.