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T-Mobile offers one-week network test drive, free music streaming to lure customers

By Marina Lopes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - T-Mobile US Inc said on Wednesday it's offering at least a million cellphone users the chance to use an Apple Inc iPhone in a free one-week trial of the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier's network with unlimited access.

The announcement is the latest promotion from T-Mobile, which last year shook up the industry by unbundling service fees from device costs, a move other carriers soon followed.

In cooperation with device maker Apple, customers can sign up online, receive a free iPhone 5s in two days and pay no charges unless the phone is broken or not returned at a retail store one week later.

"We believe every Verizon, and every AT&T customer should cheat on their carrier and enjoy every minute of it," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere, speaking at a T-Mobile event in Seattle that was broadcast on the Internet. The carrier's "seven-night stand" campaign asks consumers to allow the company to "woo you with our powerful data strong network" for the week.

T-Mobile's aggressive discounting won it more subscribers in the first quarter of 2014 than any of the top wireless carriers combined. But the company's price slashing cost it $151 million in lost revenue in the first quarter.

The company also said on Wednesday that music streaming from eight major music providers, including Pandora and Spotify, will no longer count against the data allowance included in consumers' subscriptions.

"Streaming music is a showcase of what makes our network different. We can handle it," said T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert.

T-Mobile customers use 69 percent more data than Verizon, and 100 percent more data than AT&T, according to the company.

The company also launched a music streaming service called 'unRadio', in partnership with music provider Rhapsody, which is free of advertising and will be included for customers who have unlimited high speed service. The service will also be available for $4 a month to all other subscribers.

The move follows a January AT&T announcement of a discounted subscription to Beats Music for family plan members, and a similar partnership between Sprint and Spotify in April.

T-Mobile's massive price discounts have led to a restructuring of pricing plans across the wireless industry, as carriers unbundled service plans from the cost of devices.

Earlier this month Reuters reported that Sprint has agreed to pay about $40 per share to buy T-Mobile according to a person familiar with the matter, marking further progress in the attempt to merge the third- and fourth-biggest U.S. mobile network operators.

(Reporting by Marina Lopes; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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