| NEW YORK, July 10
NEW YORK, July 10 T-Mobile US Inc said
on Wednesday that customers would be allowed to upgrade phones
every six months and it unveiled a family plan for prepaid
customers as it moves to lure customers away from its three
Verizon Wireless , AT&T Inc and Sprint
Nextel Corp offer phone discounts in exchange for tying
customers to two year contracts and typically do not allow phone
upgrades during that period.
T-Mobile, which is under pressure to stem years of customer
losses, is betting people will switch to its service because
they want to change phones more often than its rivals allow.
"You can upgrade when you want, not when you're told,"
T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere, who was appointed in
September 2012, said in a dig at his bigger rivals at a New York
event where he announced the move.
The No. 4 U.S. mobile provider also hopes to attract more
customers who pay for calls in advance by offering a prepaid
family plan that does not require a credit check.
It said its $100 monthly fee for a family of four is about
$100 less than AT&T's service, saying about a third of U.S.
families would not pass the credit checks required for typical
wireless family plans.
AT&T and Verizon attribute much of their success in
retaining customers to family plans because it is harder for an
entire family to change service than an individual.
Customers who want frequent phone upgrades must sign on to a
service called Jump that requires them to pay a $10 monthly
insurance fee on top of monthly service fees and a one-off down
payment that partially covers the cost of the phone. They are
also charged a monthly fee of up to $20 per month to pay for the
remainder of the phone.
When T-Mobile customers want an upgrade, they can bring a
phone to a store and swap it for a new device. They pay another
down-payment and resume monthly payments for that device. The
moves follows T-Mobile's elimination in March of long-term
contracts and handset subsidies.
The event on Wednesday was T-Mobiles' first media function
since it merged with MetroPCS in April.
It also announced that customer defection rates are lower
than ever because of new marketing efforts and the introduction
in April of the Apple Inc iPhone, which accounted for
29 percent of its smartphone sales in the second quarter.
T-Mobile shares closed 1.3 percent higher at $24.42 on the
New York Stock Exchange.