A unit of Deutsche Telekom AG, T-Mobile broke into the U.S. wireless market with celebrity spokeswoman Catherine Zeta-Jones (actress Jamie Lee Curtis was the pitchwoman for its previous incarnation, VoiceStream) in ads that focused primarily on brand awareness and basic features such as in-network call plans and unlimited minutes. It plans to drop Zeta-Jones and take a more man-on-the-street approach, The Wall Street Journal reported--increasing its focus on new features the expanded spectrum will enable.
T-Mobile is unable to comment because of the FCC's post-auction quiet period, but is expected to issue statements in October, when it is rumored to be shipping new handsets.
With the new spectrum, T-Mobile can offer a cellular broadband network on which customers can surf the Web via laptops and download mobile content at increased speeds. This capability is necessary for T-Mobile to compete with leading wireless carriers Cingular Wireless, Verizon and Sprint Nextel--all of which also acquired additional spectrum licenses in September's auction, and already are marketing their expanded mobile content offerings to customers.
T-Mobile also will try to cultivate more land-line customers by increasing its level of mobile service. The company hopes its expanded network will encourage customers who previously maintained both a cell phone and a land-line phone because of inadequate reception or service at home to cut the cord. Unlike its competitors, T-Mobile is not affiliated with a domestic land-line network.
In its most aggressive move, the company is expected to ship dual-mode handsets as early as next month--well ahead of its rivals--that will enable customers to get online wirelessly, at home and at T-Mobile wireless hotspots.
When coupled with a Wi-Fi router (which Vonage land-line customers already use to access their Internet-based telephone service), users may soon be able to sign up for a low-cost service plan that will allow them to make calls from their Wi-Fi connections at home without affecting the number of mobile minutes used.
Currently, T-Mobile only has 7,000 Wi-Fi hot spots in airports and Starbucks coffee shops, which customers can access for a daily or monthly fee.
Additionally, T-Mobile is test-marketing its own version of Alltel's "My Circle," plan, which lets customers make free calls to 10 people on any network, with its "My Favs" plan, which will allow the same access to five people.