T-Mobile Test Drive teaser 002

The nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier, T-Mobile, is close to getting acquired by Japan’s Softbank-owned Sprint in a deal valued at $40 billion, but that’s not stopping them from solving customer pain points.

At last week’s ‘Uncarrier 5.0.’ event in Washington, the Deutsche Telekom-owned company has announced a pair of new initiatives – ‘Music Freedom’ and ‘Unradio’.

More importantly, it’s launched a new program called ‘Test Drive’ which borrows would-be switchers an iPhone 5s for a seven-day period to test-drive its LTE network. And believe it or not, the carrier has already seen more than 12,000 sign-ups for Text Drive ahead of June 23, when the service actually opens.

Note to Legere: call Apple for more iPhones…

The figure translates to approximately nine sign-ups per minute.

Writing on his blog, the loud-mouthed CEO John Legere confirmed Friday that more than 12,000 people have already signed up to “start cheating on their carrier”.

He went on saying that T-Mobile is now a mobile Internet company with a data-strong network, as opposed to rivals that he likened to old phone company utilities trying to “bootstrap their dial-tone networks” into the Internet age.

This isn’t marketing B.S, and you’ll hear us talk a lot more about it. The fact that we have a network purpose-built for data is the fundamental difference between us and them—enabling every disruptive Un-carrier move we’ve made.

You can sign up for Test Drive over at the T-Mobile website to receive a free iPhone 5s that is “fully loaded and ready to go,” without any obligation.

A $750 hold will be placed on your credit card and you’ll be charged $100 for any damage to the handset.

T-Mobile’s blurb sums it up best:

The way we buy wireless in this country is patently absurd. So we’re changing it. With T-Mobile Test Drive, you can take our data-strong network for a spin for seven days on Apple’s latest, greatest iPhone – the iPhone 5s. There’s no cost. No hidden fees. No obligation.

And no more buying blind. I want you to know our network will work for you and your family – at home, at work, at school and everywhere in between –before you make a decision. I want you to experience our kick-ass network for yourself.

T-Mobile and its MetroPCS subsidiary currently serve nearly 50 million wireless subscribers in the United States.

T-Mobile’s Wideband LTE with 15+15 MHz service is currently in sixteen U.S. markets: Atlanta, GA; Birmingham, AL; Columbus, OH; Dallas, TX; Detroit, MI; Honolulu, HI; Houston, TX; Jacksonville, FL; Los Angeles, CA; Minneapolis, MN; Mobile, AL; Orlando, FL; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; Tampa, FL and Upstate, NY.

As for its Voice over LTE (VoLTE), it’s supported in the following fifteen markets: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Long Island, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Minneapolis, MN; New Jersey, New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA and Washington, D.C.

T-Mobile was the first U.S. carrier to have commercially deployed VoLTE technology. The company is expecting to deliver nationwide VoLTE before the end of 2014.

And according to T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, its LTE is now covering more than 220 million people in the United States. They’re expecting to blanket 230 million of U.S. population by the end of this month and 250 million by the end of 2014.

Basically, T-Mobile has gone from zero to nationwide LTE in under nine months.