After a failed buyout attempt from AT&T last year, T-Mobile is ready to beef up it customer base and make itself a competitor again. With the announcement of the buyout of MetroPCS, T-Mobile has taken a large step towards closing in on the #3 in the wireless market: Sprint Nextel.
Only one real question seemed to linger through all of the deal announcements: What is T-Mobile’s plan to deal with MetroPCS’ network? The two companies can’t simply flip a switch to make everything magically work together.
Analysts had a good reason to be worried. Sprint and Nextel had all kinds of problems when they first came together, and the joint company is still forced to run both networks at the same time.
T-Mobile has a plan to sidestep the situation nicely. “This isn’t about integrating these two networks,” T-Mobile CTO Nevill Ray said. “It’s about moving MetroPCS over to a bigger and stronger converged network.”
Of course, this is much simpler in theory than in practice, but the technology issues between the two companies will be resolved. From the tech perspective, T-Mobile seems to be making the best move since they are already investing so heavily in bumping their whole system up to a next-generation LTE network. The last thing they want to do is get bogged down in dealing with another current system to upgrade.
Going back to the Sprint Nextel example, Sprint and Nextel each had features on their respective networks that could not be merged on just one network model. Fortunately for T-Mobile, the company can easily match any of MetroPCS’ features on the current network.
With the major technology problems out of the way, the only issue will be getting the MetroPCS customers on T-Mobile by its planned date of the end of 2015. Even though CTO Ray feels confident about the process, not everyone is as optimistic. “This all adds up to a hugely complex and challenging migration that will take significant time and investment, and which is a major risk for derailing the benefits of the deal,” said Mike Roberts, principal analyst at research firm Informa.
Having been through a forced switch-over to a different phone network, I can attest that it’s not a fun process. My experience was akin to a lengthy stay in the DMV – all for a few signatures and a new SIM card. I switched providers as soon as my contract was up.
T-Mobile will have to work hard to provide a smoother experience if it wants to keep the new customer base it just purchased.