T-Mobile, the smallest of America’s four major operators, has been nosediving ever since AT&T announced their intent to buy them. That obviously never happened, and the market is all the better because of that, but T-Mobile doesn’t exactly have a strategy to stay competitive for much longer. Verizon launched a 4G LTE network in 2010, AT&T caught up a year later, and next month we’ll see Sprint light up theirs. What’s T-Mobile’s response? We’ll have to wait until 2013. They’re trying to get some new spectrum from Verizon, but that deal has yet to be approved. And they’re also trying to refarm some of their 2G spectrum for 3G use, but they still don’t have enough. So again, what are these guys going to do?
Philipp Hum, T-Mobile’s CEO, doesn’t have an answer to that question. Because of that, he’s decided to leave the company. Jim Alling, T-Mobile’s Chief Operating Officer, will take over Humm’s duties until a replacement CEO can be found. So where’s Philipp going anyway? According to The Wall Street Journal, he’s moving back to Europe this September. He’ll work at an unnamed competitor to T-Mobile, so that can pretty much be anyone.
Make no mistake, America’s wireless market is become less competitive, not more competitive, and the only thing consumers can do to “fight the power” it to simply go with a prepaid MVNO. Buy your device unlocked, pay $45 for monthly access from Straight Talk or Simple Mobile, and let the big guys struggle with razor thin margins instead of raking in the big bucks by overcharging you.
Will that happen? Absolutely not, and it’s a fantasy if you think it will. That being said, here’s a data point for you: Q1 2012 was the first time that the number of post paid subscribers fell. So maybe the prepaid market is taking off after all?
Update: Well that was fast! We now have confirmation from Light Reading that Philipp will become the CEO of Vodafone’s Northern and Central Europe Division starting October 1st.