A New Era of Un-carrier

By Mike Sievert, CEO of T-MobileApril 01, 2022

Two years after our historic merger, T-Mobile continues to stake new ground in wireless and beyond.

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert is celebrating the second anniversary of the company’s merger with Sprint, along with its successful approach to doing what the Un-carrier does best: delivering for consumers.

According to Harvard Business Review, an astonishing 70% to 90% of all mergers and acquisitions fail. Why? There are a few prevailing themes: Badly constructed plans. Poor leadership. An identity crisis. Misaligned strategies. Clashing cultures. Just look at our own industry and AT&T’s disastrous mergers with DirecTV and Time Warner as prime examples of unions gone bad.

With this track record, I can see why there were questions about the feasibility of our own historic T-Mobile-Sprint merger. Could this combination really be good for competition? Would it really result in lower prices and better services for consumers? I think they were fair questions to ask. We actually heard some of the same ones back when T-Mobile and MetroPCS merged in 2013. We answered then by simply doing what we said we’d do — and just look at how Metro has become a critical piece of our brand offering.

Fast forward to today as we’re celebrating the successful two-year anniversary of our T-Mobile-Sprint merger. We’ve taken the same approach to answering the doubters by doing what the Un-carrier does best: delivering for consumers. It would have been easy to let what has transpired in the world around us over the past two years become a distraction or rely on excuses to slow down our march forward. But we knew there was an even larger and more urgent need for connectivity, and customers needed the promise of this new supercharged Un-carrier more than ever. So, we pushed ahead faster and stronger. We leaned into one another, gathered our best and brightest, and said watch us go.

Two years into this merger, and by pretty much any objective measure, we are proving the thesis that we fought so hard for. In our opening statement about our strategy for this merger, we laid out why a combined company was in the best interest of consumers who have always had to unfairly choose value, experience OR network. We also explained why only the combined resources of T-Mobile and Sprint could address this age-old dilemma and truly deliver the full promise of the 5G future. Together we would be the best in the world at connecting customers to their world and become a force for change in this ever-crazy industry of ours.

We’ve done just that, and I am incredibly proud of all that we’ve accomplished! Today, healthy price and quality competition has delivered all sorts of goodness for American consumers in the form of better connectivity, more value and greater experiences. Because we held true to our deeply rooted belief that we could defy the odds, we are creating a better wireless industry for consumers.

Take a look at how T-Mobile’s lead in 5G has shaped this industry already. The combination of T-Mobile’s low-band and mmWave spectrum with Sprint’s mid-band frequencies gave us a big head start on building a modern, multi-layer 5G network (more on that later), and now the carriers are playing catch-up. They were forced to invest more in spectrum and deployment, placing early bets on mmWave, and then pivoting to focus on mid-band … all to try and chase our lead. And they’re still chasing.

Over the past two years, we’ve built America’s only stand-alone nationwide 5G network to deliver on our promise of 5G for All. Our Extended Range 5G covers 310 million Americans across 1.8 million square miles of the country — nearly 94% of the U.S. population! And we expect our Ultra Capacity 5G, which covers 210 million people, to reach 260 million by the end of this year and 300 million next year. We tripled our Ultra Capacity square mileage in 2021 and plan for 3x again in 2022. Three times more! With this expansion, we’re also bringing the benefits of 5G to small towns and underserved communities across the country. We are two years ahead of everyone (Verizon says it’ll take them until the end of 2024 to reach 250 million!) … and will STILL BE two years ahead of them two years from now. They just can’t catch us.

T-Mobile’s 5G lead today is increasingly important for tomorrow, as 5G is rapidly becoming the network we all use. We’re seeing it play out right now, in fact. Our 5G growth story is just remarkable. More than 40% of our postpaid phone customers have a 5G device, and 5G traffic already accounts for about HALF of all traffic carried on our network. In the space of 12 months, our 5G traffic has increased 6x while average download speeds have doubled.

Our industry-leading capacity allowed us to introduce plans like Magenta MAX, the first 5G unlimited plan that won’t slow you down no matter how much data you use. Our customers love that they’re getting a truly differentiated 5G experience. About 55% of our new customers are choosing this plan when they come to us, and those who have it are using 5x more gaming, 2x more video and 2.5x more social media.

And in keeping with our commitment to offer lower-priced plans post-merger, in March 2020 we launched our lowest-priced smartphone plan ever — T-Mobile Connect for only $15 per month. What started during the pandemic in support of the combined company’s 5G for Good initiative continues to provide much-needed savings for the millions of families and individuals battling rising inflation and economic uncertainty. This March, we added Connect by T-Mobile prepaid plans that start at a super-affordable $10 a month.

Another advantage of our high-capacity network is the ability it has given us to provide transformational experiences and choices for people who didn’t previously have them. Take a look at home internet. T-Mobile High Speed Internet is available to more than 30 million households across the U.S. — more than 10 million of those in rural areas where often there were previously no or very limited options for broadband. It’s amazing that last quarter, just three quarters into our commercial availability, T-Mobile became the fastest-growing home broadband provider in the country. That means we generated more net new customers than Comcast, or Charter, or AT&T, or Verizon, or any other wireline or wireless home broadband company … and we’re just getting started.

I’m also really proud of another program that is delivering for those who didn’t have options before. Project 10Million has been fulfilling our bold aspiration to ensure no student is left behind without access to reliable connectivity. We set out an audacious plan to deliver free or highly subsidized connectivity, and so far we’ve done just that for more than 3.2 million students. This program and others like it demonstrate the meaningful difference that T-Mobile and its unique 5G network can make in today’s society.

Our owners are also benefitting from this progress. As we’ve delivered on 5G for All, we’ve also delivered on the financial benefits of this merger. We’ve been able to drive synergies bigger and faster than planned, increasing our run-rate target by 25% above pre-merger plan. We’ve also pulled many integration milestones forward by more than a year, including completing customer network migrations in just over two years and network integration in less than three years from close. And with these outcomes, as of this writing, TMUS shares are up over 50% since April 1, 2020.

The Un-carrier formula is so simple. Love customers. Listen to them. And change the industry to make it better for them. Easy to say, but apparently hard to do, especially if you judge the actions of our competitors. We’re inspired to keep going because of this secret: Customers NOTICE when you put them first. There’s no other explanation for 1.2 million new postpaid account net adds in the last year alone — the highest number reported by any company. 2021 was our best growth year EVER, with 5.5 million new postpaid lines added. This was the most customer growth we’ve EVER delivered and also the most in the wireless industry.

We do it with the most capable, empathetic, customer-loving team in the wireless industry. Across Retail, Care, Engineering and more, Team Magenta is the heart, soul, face and voice of this company. T-Mobile thrives because of them. And we’re continuing to grow this team of customer-obsessed heroes. We hired thousands of employees in 2021 and will keep bringing in more diverse talent whose various backgrounds, skillsets and experiences will continue to drive our business.

Looking back not just on the last two years since the completion of the merger, or the last four years since the original announcement, but to the last nine (!) years since the beginning of the Un-carrier revolution, it’s amazing to pause and take stock of our progress. We’re innovating on behalf of our customers, and I’m energized by the work ahead of us to further pursue our mission of being the best in the world at connecting customers to their world.

We knew we could answer the needs of consumers in our industry and beyond, and two years in, we have. Now, as we enter a new era of the Un-carrier, we won’t stop.