T-Mobile Expands Wi-Fi Calling at UnCarrier 7.0 Event

by Matt Klassen on September 12, 2014

Lost in a torrent of tech news that has been all about Apple, T-Mobile quietly held an event of its own on Wednesday. Dubbed UnCarrier 7.0, the company announced the expansion of its existing Wi-Fi calling and text messaging service, a decision made, in part, because of Apple’s focus on the feature in the latest iPhone.

The company announced on Wednesday its new program, called “Wi-Fi Unleashed,” one designed to get more of its customers to switch to smartphones that are able to properly utilize the company’s Wi-Fi network for calls and text messaging. As part of the program, T-Mobile is also offering a faster upgrade cycle through its early upgrade Jump program.

The truth is, though, that this most recent promotion is distinctly underwhelming compared to T-Mobile’s previous UnCarrier campaigns, as improving its Wi-Fi based features is less of an industry shake-up and more of an augmentation of an existing service. Of course that didn’t stop T-Mobile CEO John Legere from playing this move up like it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

“Wi-Fi Un-leashed is a game changer,” CEO John Legere said in a statement. “This is like adding millions of towers to our network in a single day.”

Although T-Mobile’s focus on Wi-Fi calling comes in part because of Apple highlighting the feature on the most recent iPhone, the expansion also comes as part of a concerted effort on T-Mobile’s part to shore up its nationwide coverage, as promoting Wi-Fi communication is an effective Band Aid strategy while the company continues to expand its own voice and data networks.

To that end, customers have long complained that T-Mobile’s coverage has been spotty, with the company losing out to rivals AT&T and Verizon in large parts of rura lAmerica for the simple reason that it’s difficult and often not cost effective to install networks in those areas. By shoring up its Wi-Fi calling features, by helping customers upgrade to a smartphone capable of Wi-Fi communication, and by offering a “free” router to optimize the feature for customers, T-Mobile has a quick fix that will hopefully allow it to attract and retain customers in regions previously unavailable because of its poor coverage.

As an added bonus, the expansion of the company’s Wi-Fi services will also relieve some of the pressure on the company’s data network as well, an important point given T-Mobile’s continued promises of unlimited data and other such promotions. The reality is T-Mobile’s data network isn’t where it needs to be, and tapping Wi-Fi as a stopgap measure is certainly a prudent—and cost effective—course of action.

Of course with all that said, I’m beginning to think T-Mobile’s UnCarrier campaign is starting to lose some of its momentum, as each successive announcement—UnCarrier 7.0 being officially the sixth such event—has brought less industry change, and more minor modifications to the way we already do things…not really what you’d expect from a mobile revolution.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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