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Competition within the US wireless carrier market isn’t letting up. The big four mobile operators — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint — are in a race to the bottom as they attempt to match and outdo one another with increasingly consumer-friendly packages — as of February this year, all four major US carriers have unlimited data plan offerings. And while the efforts have significantly reduced the number of customers switching to rival networks, only T-Mobile has seen wireless revenues increase and continues to lead the market in net customer additions.

T-Mobile stands to continue its upward trajectory with a trio of efforts meant to create even more consumer-friendly practices while improving its network:

  • It’s increasing its national coverage. Last week, T-Mobile began rolling out its 600MHz spectrum, which could help the carrier become more competitive against Verizon and AT&T.
  • It’s targeting the baby boomer demographic owned by Verizon and AT&T. Earlier this month, the carrier unveiled T-Mobile ONE Unlimited 55+, which offers customers over the age of 55 two unlimited lines for $60. In the past, T-Mobile has typically appealed more to millennial consumers with initiatives such as Binge-On, which offers free video and music streaming.
  • It’s expanding its brick-and-mortar presence. The carrier will have over 3,000 new stores in major cities around the US by the end of the year.

One strategy that competing carriers may leverage to combat this trend is luring subscribers over with price subsidies on new premium smartphones from brands like Apple and Samsung. Despite a global slowdown in smartphone shipments, the US market is still seeing solid demand; US smartphone shipments grew 14% year-over-year (YoY) in Q2 2017, according to Counterpoint Research, while global shipments declined more than 1%.

This strategy would be particularly important now as more US consumers are turning to other channels to purchase their devices. Shipments from carriers outside of the big four has grown to account for 24% of smartphones shipped in Q2 2017, up from 15% the year prior. Carriers that improve their phone subsidy programs across a range of devices could win back those consumers who are purchasing from non-carrier sources.

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