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P.R. business sector vital for T-Mobile’s growth post-María

A year after Hurricane María blasted through Puerto Rico knocking out telecommunications services, wireless carrier T-Mobile has reinforced its offer across the board, paying special attention to its business customer base, which has shown double-digit growth in the past three months.

The segment — comprising all types of companies, but especially small and medium enterprises — has delivered a 19 percent month-over-month growth for the carrier since it launched a campaign in August, company executives said.

“It has been a combination of everything. As network capabilities continue to improve, you become relevant to more businesses,” said Jorge Martel, general manager of T-Mobile Puerto Rico, during a meeting with members of the local media.

In the wake of Hurricane María, the wireless carrier got the go-ahead from its parent company to build a better network than it had prior to the storm. That meant rolling out 600 Mhz technology nearly two years before previously planned, with the blessing from the Federal Communications Commission, Martel said.

As of now, T-Mobile’s 600 Mhz network — which is laying down the foundation for the arrival of 5G technology in the future — covers 40 percent of the island and should blanket Puerto Rico during the first quarter of 2019.

The rollout of the new network has had a “huge impact” on T-Mobile’s business segment, which buys differently from individual consumers, said Mike Katz, executive vice president for T-Mobile for Business, who paid a brief visit to the island to meet with company employees and look in on the progress being made.

“They don’t buy on reputation, they buy on technical aspects first, then price and features. The network is the single-most important thing for businesses when they’re relying on it to run their operations,” he said.

The executive, who is based in Seattle and has been with the wireless carrier for nearly two decades, said he “has never been prouder to work at T-Mobile after seeing what’s happened this year.”

Katz said the stories he heard from T-Mobile employees in Puerto Rico, who aside from dealing with their personal tragedies post-storm, also lent a helping hand to clients going through their own problems “were an inspiration.”

“The devastation that you guys went through has been really well documented,” said Katz. “But the way that our teams here reacted, the recovery efforts that went on here that we were really proud to participate in, have been such an inspiration and so overwhelming. It says so much about the leadership team here.”

T-Mobile ONE is driving force
The executives also credited the T-Mobile ONE for Business service plans launched about two years ago for the increase in the local commercial customer base.

“We’ve built an entire proposition off T-Mobile ONE because we think that one of the unique benefits is that we provide businesses simplicity,” Katz said.

“While wireless communication is a critical part of their infrastructure, it’s not one that they want to be thinking about,” he added. “So, we try to make it simple for them, have one simple, fair price and make everything unlimited so they have price certainty and can spend more time on other parts of their business, instead of having to manage their wireless bill.”

Martel added that T-Mobile’s offer is adapted to Puerto Rico’s competitive market — where there are three other wireless carriers pitching offers to the same corporate universe. He said T-Mobile has seen growth in segments such as transportation companies, which rely on telecommunications to track their fleet of vehicles.

“That one is taking a foothold and is starting to grow a lot in the market,” Martel said.

During his visit, Katz gathered employees to mark a local milestone — “in the nine months that have finished so far in 2018, four of those months a T-Mobile employee from Puerto Rico has been the company’s top performer in the retail segment.”

Those people have beat out 30,000 peers from 5,300 stores nationwide, he said.

“This has been, if not the, then one of the top performing markets across the entire company and when you go and spend time with people in the store, you quickly realize why,” Katz said, referring to his visits to several T-Mobile stores in Puerto Rico.

“Our brand is about obsession with customer experience and this team here has dozens of examples of them going above and beyond their job. These are the people that hold the brand in their hands,” Katz said.

Author Details
Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.

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