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How T-Mobile is knocking down the wireless borders to Canada, MexicoT-Mobile's chief operating officer, Mike Sievert, visits CNET to talk about its expanded calling plan, competition and whether Dish would make a good employer.
This is Roger Cheng with CNet news and I am here with T-Mobile's Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert. Hi Roger, thanks for having me. So, let's jump in this recent announcement. You are letting your customers use their phones in Canada and Mexico, without any extra fees. So tell me more about it. It's called Mobile Without Borders, and we called it that for a reason, because what we're really doing here is tearing down another major barrier, another border in the wireless industry. It's kind of absurd the way this industry's always worked. Basically the carriers get together, And they decide, "Hey you know what? We're gonna charge each other these roaming fees and then we're gonna turn around and jack that up 90 percent and charge the actual end users incredible fees just to drive across the bridge or go across a border". What we're doing with Mobile Without Borders, is giving to our simple choice customers the ability to just call anywhere they want, in Mexico, in Canada, in the United States and travel anywhere they want. Just as if it was your own home coverage area. So we're basically giving all three countries for the price of one. All right, so that sounds really great but what's the catch? Well look, we're not really into catches. Our favorite price point is free, and that's what we're doing. So basically every single plan that's available starting on Wednesday, the 15th of July Includes this. Whether it's a promotional plan. Whether it's a basic plan. You get it. So, if that plan's available on the 15th of July, you get this. By the way, it's for no extra charge. This is kind of interesting because what the carriers tend to do is offer two pabs. Either you don't sign up for anything where you could wind up, if you just use your phone with AT&T and you don't sign up for anything in advance You could wind up spending $10,000 a week just to use your phone in Mexico the way you would normally use it at home. You bring up AT&T, and obviously they have a vested interest in being in Mexico. They just purchased two carriers down there with the intent of building out this network between the two countries. How is what you're doing different from what they're doing? It just showcases how our philosophy is totally different. They're a command and control, ownership, kind of domineering type of company. So what they do, when they wanna go to Mexico, they flew down there and they bought up companies. By the way, second tier, third rate companies. And what we do-and then what we do is so different though. What we're doing is partnering with the number one and number two carriers in both of these countries. That allows us to provide an incredible experience. LTE and all the top cities. But we don't have to own it. You know, what we've created here is a consumer movement in un carrier that people want to be a part of. Consumers wanna be a part of it and so do partners. And it's so much better way to go. I mean the world is still waiting. AT and T said they were gonna go buy all those companies for $4 billion. And that their customers would benefit. Well, we're still waiting to see what that benefit's gonna be. Right well, so let's talk a little bit about competition. You added 2.1 million new customers in second quarter What does the competitive landscape look like right now? Are things getting better? Are they getting worse? Quieter? Well, things are accelerating for us. This was a great quarter for us and it really showed that this consumer movement has legs. Everybody said things would quiet down. We're not interested Interested in things quieting down. We're interested in continuing to bring people into the Uncarrier. 2.1 million customers in a single quarter. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure recently took a page out of John Legere's dictionary and called it the Uncarrier campaign BS, without being so polite. [LAUGH] But how would you react to What are your thoughts on that reaction? You think that was scrappy? I kind of chalked it up to he was having a bad day. Let's face it. Q2 was coming to an end that day. He was probably looking at his numbers. Who knows what motivated that outburst. We'll see pretty soon, I'm sure. Yeah, we'll see. Sort of on the other side of things with the big two. I mean, Verizon has been Make a lot of noise about, making the point that no matter how low your price is it doesn't matter if the coverage is lacking. While T-Mobile has done a lot of work to improve the network in big cities your coverage isn't as ubiquitous as those other guys. What are you doing to improve things? Things. Well, one of the things, is the rapid rollout of low band. Which we now have licenses covering 190 million pops of the US, and we're rapidly rolling it out. And just some clarification. Low band. Yeah. Spectrum. Is the kind of spectrum that's Able to go across wide distances. Yeah. Penetrates walls better. It reaches further from the towers because it's at a lower frequency. And this is something that's new for us. And so the other guys have had it for a long time. We're now rapidly growing it out. And what that results in, and this is huge, An extra million square miles of coverage just in 2015. Think about that. Wow. We're more than doubling our footprint. And so it makes a tremendous difference. And we announced this morning, too, that we're hitting 290 million POPs. That's 290 million Americans are now covered by our LTE network. So we're in all the places where people work and play. And we're rapidly improving in the rural areas, as well, because of this rapid rollout of low band technology. All right. Well, last I want to ask about the acquisition rumors. Dish network has been Speculated that Dish Network is interested in buying T-Mobile. What do you think about them? Have you thought about what it would be like to work for Dish chairman Charlie Ergen. [LAUGH] Yeah, our strategy is pretty simple. It's to position this company in order, In order to succeed in an environment that's rapidly changing. I mean, think about it. You know, all content of all kinds is landing on the Internet. Right. And the Internet is rapidly transitioning to mobile. So there's this great convergence going Going on. And that's got us looking around going okay, how do we turbocharge this strategy of ours? Because the strategy we've got is working. We've got an uncarrier movement. A strategy, a team, and a brand that are on fire. And what that does is it gives us lot's of options. Because what we're doing is really working. And so what we're looking for if we're looking are things that can turbocharge That strategy. If there's a partner out there that could bring us spectrum or other raw ingredients that could take this thing that's working and position us for where we want to go then of course we'd be interested. So that's the context. And it's really good to have a position of strength and a strategy that's working. When all this convergence is happening, because it allows us to be patient and thoughtful and look for strategies and potential partners, if there are any, that can turbo charge what we're doing. Our strategy. And, if possible, make it more successful. Okay. Great. Thanks, Mike. Really appreciate you time. This is Roger Cheng with CNet News. Thanks for watching. [MUSIC]