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T-Mobile looks to keep customers satisfied with test drives, free music streaming

Philip Michaels | June 20, 2014
T-Mobile will let customers test drive an iPhone 5s and allow subscribers to stream music without it counting against their data plan.

The test drive program is likely to be embraced by anyone who's ever fretted about whether a carrier's coverage truly extends to where they work and play. (As someone who moved to a new house only to discover that his wireless carrier had a dead zone that started on the front porch and extended straight to the backyard, I can assure you this is a very legitimate concern.) And while the test hardware is limited to T-Mobile's partnership with Apple, even Android users can get a sense of the relative strengths and weaknesses of T-Mobile's network in their area after a week-long test drive.

There are caveats, of course. Households are limited to one test drive per year, so don't count on pulling off that caper where you spend a year getting wireless service on T-Mobile's dime. Still, don't fear that T-Mobile is going to pounce if that test drive iPhone 5s isn't back in its possession right as those seven days expire: there will be "a little bit of a grace period," Sievert said.

"We want to make this a great experience for our customers," he added.

T-Mobile is planning for at least 1 million people to take a test drive this year. And if it turns out there's even more of a demand, Legere says the company will expand the program.

Let the music play
T-Mobile's decision to stop counting music streaming against its users' data plans should resonate as well, especially among its current customers who tend to use more data than subscribers to other wireless networks. Legere, who peppered Wednesday night's talk with stats almost as much as with his usual profanities, says that T-Mobile customers use 69 percent more data than the average Verizon customer and double the data that AT&T customers consume. Still, according to Legere's figures, people are worried about running into the upper limits of their data plan: around 40 percent of mobile users limit their streaming due to concerns about blowing past their limit.

T-Mobile's Music Freedom program figures to alleviate that concern. Users with a Simple Choice plan from T-Mobile will be able to access Pandora, Rhapsody, iHeartRadio, iTunes Radio, Slacker Radio, Spotify, Samsung's Milk Music, and a forthcoming Beatport music app from SFX without it counting against their data plans.

Eagle-eyed music lovers will spot some noteworthy omissions from that list, including Beats Music, Rdio, and Google Play Music All Access. Legere counters that the supported services account for 85 percent of music streaming. Even so, T-Mobile says it's open to adding more streaming services to Music Freedom. On the Music Freedom website, the company has set up an area where you can give feedback on the services you want added to program. If there's enough of a groundswell of support, presumably T-Mobile will add it to the ranks of streaming services that won't count against your allotted data.


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