T-Mobile (CES 2014 building 001)

T-Mobile persists in its anti-AT&T rhetoric and today marks a new chapter in AT&T trash-talking as the nation’s fourth-largest wireless company puts out a press release ridiculing AT&T’s $450 incentive for T-Mobile subscribers to switch.

Conveniently timed on the same day that AT&T released its Christmas quarter earnings report, the press release argues that AT&T’s offer makes T-Mobile’s own incentive to pay ETFs to switch a no-brainer because AT&T customers can now go to T-Mobile and then come back at no cost.

Seriously, if a customer takes advantage of T-Mobile’s ETF offer and later decides he or she dislikes it for whatever reason, AT&T will pay $450 to take them back so they don’t really lose anything. The Deutsche Telekom-owned operator has also revealed advertisements that should appear in print newspapers today to communicate this message nationwide…

Here’s an excerpt from T-Mobile’s “press release”:

“Call it an awakening,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility, “but I felt it was time to really stir things up and put the customer first for a change. And by “customer” I’m referring to our former customers who switch to T-Mobile, because our current customers don’t really qualify.”

De la Vega said that the new T-Mobile switching offer was custom designed to entice its millions of contract customers to go ahead and give T-Mobile a try. “If for any reason you don’t love T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network, which is now faster than ours[i], we’ll actually pay you up to $450 to come back to AT&T, I kid you not.”

I’m not making this up, that’s what the media release says.


T-Mobile admits it’s a joke – “Ok, De La Vega didn’t actually say that, but he might as well have” – and goes on to explain why AT&T’s offer to pay early termination fees for customers if they broke up with AT&T and traded in their device for a new one at T-Mobile is now essentially risk free:

If customers making the switch are not completely satisfied with T-Mobile and its state-of-the-art nationwide 4G LTE network (now fastest in the U.S.)i, AT&T will cover the costs for customers switching back to their own slower network, up to $450 with trade-in.

T-Mobile’s tongue-in-cheek press release even links to AT&T’s offer – that’s how confident the company is that AT&T shot itself in the foot.

John Leger (headshot 001)

Of course CEO John Legere, pictured above, couldn’t resist lambasting AT&T, whom it likened to Death Star from Star Wars.

“Wow. I mean … wow,” breathed John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “I guess we all have moments of doubt. You know? Like, can the darkness ever be defeated? But that they’ve singled us out in this way is just so affirming. I guess we must be doing something right. I mean, if AT&T can change, it feels like anything’s possible.

“It’s kind of like that scene where Darth Vader’s lying there and Luke helps take off his helmet,” Legere continued, “and you see that, okay, sure, Darth Vader’s pretty ugly, but he’s human after all.”

And this is T-Mobile’s new print ad.

T-Mobile (ATT ad Deathstar)

Despite recent strides – T-Mobile reported adding 869,000 postpaid subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2013 – AT&T remains unfazed by T-Mobile’s action as the firm added 809,000 new subscribers in Christmas quarter.


More importantly, AT&T’s churn rate was notably lower than T-Mobile’s: contract/overall churn rate was at 1.11/1.43 percent at AT&T versus the 1.7 percent churn that T-Mobile had on the quarter.

This particular metric represents the percentage of customers that leave a carrier’s network during any given quarter. According to T-Mobile’s marketing chief Mike Sievert, his company is now adding more than two AT&T customers for each one it loses to the rival carrier, an increase from earlier this month.

But T-Mobile has more pressing issues on its mind than the churn rate.

Even though it had no LTE just a year ago and now blankets 209 million people with 4G LTE signal, the U.S. population sits at nearly 320 million so the company still has a coverage problem on its hands.

What’s the T-Mobile coverage situation in your area like?

Can you access T-Mobile’s LTE service or does the coverage stink?

  • Framboogle

    This advertising reminisces of Think Different. I like it.

  • Robert A. Petersen

    I’m loving T-Mobile, switched about 8 months ago from AT&T. I’m paying less than I was on AT&T, but getting more, no contract to worry about, and 6 month upgrades.

    Also, the speeds on T-Mobile’s LTE here in Reno are fantastic.

    • Framboogle

      What is that + after the LTE in your status bar?

    • J. Rockwell

      That is faster than my AT&T LTE at my home by a longshot. I usually average around 16Mbps.

    • TonyVee73

      Wow. That’s awesome. In NYC, I’m usually at 20Mbps download.

  • Snailpo

    The coverage in Colorado sucks so bad… I gave them a try about a week ago and was stuck on 1-2 bars with edge. I couldn’t load we pages I couldn’t tether. Made their unlimited data pointless. If they had better service I would probably switch over.

    • TonyVee73

      If you’re using a T-Mobile device, then you need to drop them and probably go back to your old carrier.

      If you’re using an unlocked AT&T phone, I wouldn’t give up just yet. When I switched from AT&T, I was using unlocked iPhone 4S’s. OMG, 25-30% of the time I was on E. Painful. I almost switched back. Once I bought an iPhone 5 from T-Mobile, everything changed. LTE and on 4G about 10% of the time.

      YMMV. You area may not be set up yet for LTE.

      • Snailpo

        I got a galaxy mini from tmobile to try their service. I took the phone back within a few days saying the phone was messed up maybe. They replaced it with another galaxy mini and I still had the same problems.

  • PghMike4

    I use T-mobile in Pittsburgh on an iPhone 4 (so, no LTE). Coverage is good, although when you get out in the boonies, you’re definitely looking at Edge speeds (because it’s an iPhone 4 — I think it would be better on a 5 or later, since those support the old T-mobile 3G frequencies).

    Our family is saving something like $90/month over what we were paying AT&T. The speeds are better, the price is much better and tech support is better.

    And I really like the free international roaming.

  • You know, when your only selling point is trash-talking your competition because you can’t compete otherwise, you’ve already lost.

    • TonyVee73

      They All trash talk each other. Also, In everyone of their respective ads, they all have the best LTE, coverage, service, etc. Someone’s lying. LOL

      • That’s true, and really it’s an individual experience. AT&T is the best option for where I live in Seattle as Verizon doesn’t have great coverage, T-Mobile has none and Sprint is… well, we all know what Sprint is.

  • TonyVee73

    I switched to T-Mobile from AT&T Nov 2012 and I couldn’t be happier. T-Mobile in NYC is great. I’ve had no major problems in NYC, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and parts of NJ when using a T-Mobile iPhone 5. Using an unlocked AT&T iPhone 4S on T-Mobile was awful. I was on E (2G) way more than I wanted to be. I just wish they would of offered to cover the ETF then.

  • AndroidDogHeatandSteelersFan

    The Tv ad is okay, the newspaper ad is bad, they shouldn’t advertise any good in at&t because it looks like who ever done the newspaper ad seems to get compensation from at&t as well.

  • Bailey Carr

    I get coverage every where, I like in Mesa AZ and sine the day I got the 5 from tmobile LTE speeds were faster than Verizon and AT&T from the start, it just keeps getting better and better, tethered to my MacBook I got download speeds over 50mbps, with unlimited data, tmobile is the best thing ever, even in rural areas around here and in building or dead spots, still have lte. Never dropped a call ever, I love it

  • PanaMeño Meño

    I switch to a family plan with my parents and two brothers who were with att, traveling to visit family in (panama City) We will be here until February 11, roaming free is excellent, unlimited text & data (2G speed) going great…! incoming and outgoing calls Panama/Panama, Panama/U.S. , U.S./Panama…..ridiculous as $0.20 per minute, wonderful…!, No complaints from us……Thanks T-mobile