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T-Mobile invites people to 'test drive' network with free iPhone 5s

updated 12:20 am EDT, Thu June 19, 2014

Uncarrier event spurs iPhone seven-day, unlimited data 'test drive' free of charge

During a lively event at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, T-Mobile delivered new points to its Uncarrier revolution. In an attempt to solicit new customers and put heat on its competitors, the company is now offering a "test drive" of its services. The carrier is working with Apple to allow seven-day trials of its "data strong" network on the iPhone 5s.

CEO John Legere took to the stage, making sure to bust some chops over the other big news of the data regarding a "holographic phone." Moving from poking fun at Amazon, Legere said that 17 million people have chosen T-Mobile since the company started the Uncarrier revolution. Pointing out that the company "will not stop," Legere reiterated the idea that the carrier is looking to change an outdated industry. The revolution is built on the backs of the customers and employees trying to solve problem points in the mobile world, he told the crowd.

Driving home that his network is built for data, Legere outlined figures that the average T-Mobile customer uses more data than customers on other carriers. According to the information from the presentation, T-Mobile customers use 69 percent more data than the average Verizon user, 61 percent more than Sprint, and double the average of AT&T. He added that T-Mobile has 70 percent more spectrum per customer than Verizon.

Up to this point, T-Mobile has only deployed wideband LTE in 16 markets in the nation. Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is in an additional 15 markets, serving a total of 107 million people. The company intends to offer VoLTE nationwide by the end of the year. However, Legere said that everyone should cheat on their carrier.

Legere used the information to segue into the newest Uncarrier point, the "test drive." Because the company is so confident in its "data strong" network, they committed to offering free seven-day "test drives" in conjunction with an Apple partnership. T-Mobile will send an iPhone 5s to a potential customer, without a down payment or fee, to test for seven days after signing up online.

There are, however, two catches to the system. Even though it was said there would be no charge, T-Mobile does requires a credit card to enroll in the program, which opens on Monday. Credit cards won't be charged at the time, but they will be used to verify information. When Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert was asked about the limitations of the program, it was said that it would be available once per year, per credit card and per household.

The second catch is in how the iPhone 5s is to be returned. Rather than sending it back in the mail, T-Mobile requires those test-driving the carrier to bring the iPhone back to a store. When signing up, customers are shown a map with a nearby store location to ensure that the program is right for the consumer. Sievert said there would be a small grace period. Legere added that T-Mobile isn't looking to ding people, but rather to get them to try out the service.

Businesses are be treated a little differently in the program. During a question and answer session, Sievert mentioned that businesses would be able to receive three iPhones for the test period. They would also see their time extended to two weeks. A representative would also deliver and collect the devices.

The iPhone 5s is the only phone available in the "test drive" program. A member of the press asked if the company would be offering Android phones, but Legere shot down the prospect. He said that it was better to have a targeted, focused launch that could help build awareness for the Apple offerings. Sievert mentioned the "latest and greatest" devices during the presentation, but it was inferred that it was whatever the hot device is at the moment. Sievert mentioned in response to a question that it wasn't possible to address adding the next iPhone, since no announcement has come from Apple.

When questioned about a cap on the number of devices or demand, Legere said T-Mobile expects one million "test drives" within the first year of the program. If there is greater demand, they'll offer more of them. Addressing potential customers, he said that he wanted them to know "I respect you enough to do a test drive Let me show you that [T-Mobile] is different."

T-Mobile wants to break the "duopoly" of the wireless industry, and change mobile blind-buying habits for consumers with the program. To kick off the event, T-Mobile is launching a seven-night stand campaign (#7nightstand on Twitter) to add a little fun.

At the end of the event, it was announced that there would be another Uncarrier event sometime in the summer.

by MacNN Staff



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