By: Robert E. Yadon, Ph.D.
Advertising hype aside, a recent blog by T-Mobile claiming to have the densest network in the nation crosses the line. It’s what T-Mobile doesn’t say in the blog that misleads the public and actually is at the heart of the story here.
In their June 19th blog, T-Mobile claims to have “the most dense network in the nation: we have more cell sites per customer than any other nationwide wireless company, and we’ve concentrated them where it really matters.” The blog, filled with half-truths, attempts to convince the readers that T-Mobile leads the nation in coverage, and using superior 4G technology. Here’s the truth.
First, T-Mobile is currently the fourth largest mobile network in the nation. Estimates by Fierce Wireless show the following for first quarter 2014.
- Verizon Wireless (122 million subscribers)
- AT&T Mobility (116.01 million subscribers)
- Sprint Corporation (54.6 million subscribers)
- T-Mobile US (49.1 million subscribers)
Second, the T-Mobile blog attempts to suggest that, unlike the “old carrier networks from AT&T and Verizon,” T-Mobile somehow uses superior technology to provide it with an advantage. The truth is that T-Mobile and AT&T both utilize GSM technology, and both have 4G LTE deployed in their networks. Whatever advantage T-Mobile has in density is primarily in metro areas and is centered on the spectrum that T-Mobile uses (1700 MHz and 1900 MHz) with smaller cells; and that does not necessarily translate into “better” coverage.
Third, if 4G LTE coverage is an issue, then T-Mobile still falls short. Verizon has the largest 4G LTE network in the United States, covering over 500 markets in all 50 states.
Fourth, in the war on words, perception is everything; and perhaps that’s the basis for the recent T-Mobile blog and their aggressive marketing campaign. Unfortunately for T-Mobile, few people believe the T-Mobile network is superior in coverage over the mobile network they currently use, regardless of the marketing hype. According to a recent survey by research firm NSD, only 2 percent of the wireless non-customers of T-Mobile believe that T-Mobile is superior to their current mobile service.
In the end, if you twist the facts enough times you’ll come up first in some category. For T-Mobile, a firm that desired to abandon the United States only a few months ago, the new level of competition from that firm is not only an interesting turn, but a welcome one as well. Expanded competition is always good. The battle, however, will be won in the marketplace by consumers and not a war of words by ad executives.
 The Un-carrier Network: Designed Data-Strong (T-Mobile blog, 06/19/2014).
 “Grading the top U.S. wireless carriers in the first quarter of 2014”. FierceWireless. May 14, 2014.