Wireless carrier T-Mobile is weathering Puerto Rico’s protracted economic slump by keeping an ear to the ground on consumer needs for quality services at affordable rates, developing a “pro-consumer” brand as a result.
So said Jorge Martel, general manager of T-Mobile in Puerto Rico during a news conference Monday, when he candidly spoke about how the carrier has navigated a decade of economic downturn.
“We’re very worried about the economy, as are many companies worldwide. But fortunately, we’ve done pretty well,” he said. “Within all of the negative, we want to be very sensitive to the Puerto Rican family. We want consumers to see T-Mobile as a ‘pro-consumer’ provider.”
“That trust placed on a ‘pro-consumer’ brand during tough times has helped us a lot,” Martel said, noting the company is aware of tighter consumer budgets and thus has tailored plans that offer discounts for multiple lines and offers unlimited data services.
Earlier this month, the carrier released quarterly figures that confirmed the positive performance. In Puerto Rico, the operation reported an increase in the postpaid customer base of 7 percent, compared to last year, as well as an increase in net additions of 38 percent.
In addition, the local operation reported that loyalty levels are very close to levels in the United States, which is the highest rate the company has had in its history, executives said.
As part of its strategy to buck the island’s weakening trend, Martel said T-Mobile has approached the Federal Communications Commission to suggest extending to Puerto Rico several programs offered to minority and tribal communities in the U.S. mainland.
He also said there are educational programs and initiatives for low-income consumers that could be brought to Puerto Rico.
T-Mobile triples LTE capacity
Despite the challenges, T-Mobile continues to invest in its network, pumping $375 million in capital improvements to its infrastructure in the past three years.
On Monday, the company announced that as part of its aggressive strategy to further strengthen its coverage in Puerto Rico, it has tripled its LTE network throughout the island. New coverage areas, increased capacity, and new LTE technologies will enable customers to see theoretical speeds of up to 400 megabits per second, Martel said.
“Our network is designed for this age of high data consumption and we have the most experience in the industry unlimited data,” he said. “T-Mobile customers use 50 percent more data, see three times more video and listen to music twice as much from their cell phones that the industry average.”
“Now, with these advances, our customers will see faster and more capacity in locations throughout Puerto Rico,” said Martel.
The new coverage 4G LTE areas are: Guayama; Río Grande; Gurabo; Manati; Peñuelas; and Vega Baja, which are added to the 50 new 4G LTE coverage areas recently announced in Canóvanas, Trujillo Alto, Hormigueros, Ciudad Jardín in Caguas, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, and Las Croabas in Fajardo.
In addition, coverage was added in high-traffic areas including hospitals (Auxilio Mutuo, Doctors Center Manati), universities (Inter American University in San Germán and Aguadilla, and the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus); hotels (St. Regis Bahía Beach, Ritz Carlton Dorado) and shopping centers (Santa Rosa Mall, Las Catalinas.)
In addition, T-Mobile added 27 new sectors to offer more capacity in the areas of Corozal, Mayagüez, San Juan, Aguas Buenas, Río Piedras, Hato Rey, Bayamón, Río Grande, Carolina, Santurce, Cidra, Coamo, Humacao, Cataño, Caguas, Hormigueros and Toa Baja.
“The T-Mobile network is continuously growing and never stops evolving. We were the first 4G network in Puerto Rico, the first and only to offer VoLTE (HD Voice) in 100 percent of the network, the first to offer WiFi calling and texting, the first to offer unlimited music and video,” Martel said.
“Now, by tripling our 4G LTE network throughout the island, we reaffirm that our network and our coverage will not stop,” Martel added.
T-Mobile officials also announced the availability of QAM 256 and 4X4 MIMO technologies that offer more speed and more capacity. By combining both technologies, compatible phones will be able to experience download speeds of up to 400 megabits per second, among other benefits.