Strategic acquisitions, radical decisions, and a customer-centered approach make up the backbone of the history of T-Mobile US. A disrupter in the wireless industry, T-Mobile introduced the Un-carrier campaign in 2013, becoming the first major US company to stop annual service contracts.

It argued that the broadband industry was broken, and the Un-carrier campaign would make it better, simpler, and cheaper. Indeed, in the same year, over 4 million users signed up for T-Mobile’s services. The company would go on to acquire its competitor, Sprint, becoming a leader in the 5G network in 2024.

Our experts at Business2Community compiled the key dates for T-Mobile, outlining how it became one of the biggest telecommunications companies in the USA and beyond.

A History of T-Mobile – Key Dates

  • Wireless services company VoiceStream Wireless PCS was founded in 1994.
  • In 2001, Deutsche Telekom acquired VoiceStream, rebranding it into T-Mobile USA a year later.
  • T-Mobile USA successfully launched the Un-carrier campaign in 2013, providing a contract-free pricing structure for pre-paid and post-paid plans.
  • T-Mobile merged with MetroPCS in 2013, and with Sprint in 2020.
  • As of 2024, T-Mobile has become a major American wireless carrier and the largest telecommunications company by market cap.

Who Owns T-Mobile?

T-Mobile’s largest shareholder is German-based Deutsche Telekom, holding over 50% of the company’s shares. The next biggest shareholders are SoftBank Capital Partners LLC (over 4.5%), SoftBank Group Corp. (over 3%), and The Vanguard Group (over 3%).

The company’s history traces back to 1994, when John W. Stanton founded Western Wireless Corporation in Bellevue, Washington. He was the CEO of both Western Wireless Corporation and its subsidiary VoiceStream Wireless Personal Communications Services (PCS).

In 2000, German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom AG announced it would acquire VoiceStream Wireless, extending its operations into the USA. The deal was settled in 2001 when Deutsche Telekom got regulatory approval to take over VoiceStream for $34 billion.

At the time, VoiceStream Wireless PCS was the sixth-largest wireless operator in the US. In 2002, Deutsche Telekom rebranded VoiceStream Wireless PCS into T-Mobile USA Inc. Its businesses in other countries had already adopted the T-Mobile brand, such as max.mobil in Austria, RadioMobil in the Czech Republic, and One2One in the UK market.

T-Mobile sign on a window - Unsplash

T-Mobile USA merged with MetroPCS in 2013, enhancing its position in the wireless market. The same year, it had its initial public offering, with shares offered at $16.

Who is the T-Mobile CEO?

Mike Sievert is the president and CEO of T-Mobile. He has been in office since 2020, taking over from John Legere. An influential figure, John Legere played a key role in T-Mobile’s Un-carrier campaign, offering contract-free pricing structures with unlimited calls, texts, and data services at competitive prices.

The previous CEO, Robert Dotson, was appointed by the VoiceStream founder John Stanton. Dotson had been a part of VoiceStream since its first year, joining as Vice President of Marketing and continuing in its leadership team.

T-Mobile CEO Name Period
Robert Dotson 2003-2011
Jim Alling (interim CEO) 2011-2012
John Legere 2012-2020
Mike Sievert> 2020-Present

Growth and Development of T-Mobile

T-Mobile is widely known for creating the Un-carrier movement to simplify the wireless service experience through unlimited plans at competitive prices. That said, it always stayed true to its roots by continuing the philosophy of VoiceStream’s “Get More” campaign — offering more minutes and features than other providers.

Here is how the T-Mobile history evolved over the years:

1994-2000: Early Days of VoiceStream

In 1994, VoiceStream Wireless PCS was launched as a subsidiary of Western Wireless Corporation. By 2000,VoiceStream had already ventured out of its parent company and acquired two regional GSM carriers: Omnipoint Corporation and Aerial Communications.

VoiceStream pioneered internet text messaging in 2000, as it automatically assigned an email address to all the VoiceStream phone numbers. With this feature, users were able to send texts to wireless phones and personal computers.

During this period, VoiceStream’s marketing campaign was called Get More From Life, promising its customers more minutes, features, and services. Its features included caller ID, voicemail, and text messaging, with 24/7 customer service.

2000-2005: Deutsche Telekom Acquires VoiceStream

In 2001, German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom completed VoiceStream’s acquisition for $34 billion with the approval of The Federal Communications Commission. According to the FCC, the deal would increase competition in mobile services by providing new communications services and features.

In the first quarter of 2001, VoiceStream saw an 18.5% customer growth, becoming the fastest-growing mobile network provider in the US. It continued using the Get More campaign under the name VoiceStream by T-Mobile. Below is a 2001 VoiceStream by T-Mobile ad featuring actress Jamie Lee Curtis:

In 2022, VoiceStream changed its name to T-Mobile USA Inc., launching its wireless voice and data services in California and Nevada. These two states became the first markets where the T-Mobile brand made its debut in the US, moving away from the VoiceStream brand.

2005-2013: AT&T Attempts to Buy T-Mobile

In 2008, T-Mobile unveiled T-Mobile G1 (also known as the HTC Dream), the world’s first phone powered by Android in partnership with Google. Featuring a touch screen and a QWERTY keyboard, the phone also came with several Google products, including Google Maps, Gmail, and YouTube.

However, T-Mobile’s competitors were also crossing new milestones. In 2007, when the first generation of the iPhone launched, Apple and AT&T signed a five-year exclusivity agreement. As a part of the deal, Apple agreed to sell iPhones with an AT&T network in exchange for having full control over the software.

In 2011, AT&T announced it would buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion in cash and stocks. According to analysts, this would increase the plan prices significantly — T-Mobile had some of the lowest prices in the industry, keeping the competition alive. The United States Justice Department blocked the merger in a rare antitrust action, saying that keeping the two companies separate would be better for competition. AT&T ended merger talks but announced it would continue investing in the wireless industry.

2013: T-Mobile Launches the Un-carrier Campaign

2013 was a huge year for T-Mobile. John Legere, who was appointed as CEO in 2012, launched the Un-carrier Campaign, aiming to lower the costs of wireless services while making them simpler. He said,

“This is an industry filled with ridiculously confusing contracts, limits on how much data you can use or when you can upgrade, and monthly bills that make little sense.”

One of the company’s first announcements as a part of Un-carrier was the Simple Choice Plan. Operating on a contract-free pricing structure, Simple Choice took two factors into account: how many lines and how much high-speed data customers needed. The fee for one line started at $50 for unlimited talk, text, and web with 500MB of high-speed data services.

Customers could add a second line for $30 per month, and an additional one after the second one for $10 per month. Unlimited 4G data would cost $20 more per month per line. This made T-Mobile the first major US wireless company to stop annual service contracts, marking a monumental shift in the industry.

In his interviews, John Legere always highlighted putting customers first. Indeed, in 2015, T-Mobile outranked its competitors Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint in a survey for the best wireless carrier in the US.

Thanks to the Un-carrier strategy, T-Mobile became the fastest-growing mobile network in the US, adding 4.4 million new customers in 2013 alone.

2013-2020: T-Mobile Acquires MetroPCS and Goes Public

In 2013, T-Mobile closed the deal to acquire MetroPCS (another wireless company), combining 34 million T-Mobile subscribers with 9 million MetroPCS subscribers. The combined company went public on the New York Stock Exchange as TMUS, offering 66,150,000 shares at around $16 per share.

By 2018, MetroPCS had doubled its customer base, doubled its distribution, and tripled the number of Metro employees. This was when T-Mobile announced it would rebrand MetroPCS into Metro by T-Mobile, introducing two new all-unlimited rate plans.

According to T-Mobile, many customers overpaid for the pre-paid plans of Verizon and AT&T. With the new Metro by T-Mobile brand, they would have access to extra features in their unlimited plans, including extra cloud storage with Google One and an Amazon Prime membership.

In 2014, T-Mobile paid $2.365 billion in cash to Verizon for the acquisition of certain 700 MHz A-Block spectrum, AWS, and PCS spectrum licenses. This deal would increase T-Mobile’s coverage and strengthen its position in the wireless industry, competing with Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint.

The same year, T-Mobile made a deal with Apple, bringing the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to its customers. By signing up for a Simple Choice Plan with T-Mobile, customers could get the 16GB iPhone 6 (usually $649) for 24-month equal monthly payments of $27.08, and the 16GB iPhone 6 Plus for 24 equal monthly payments of $31.24.

T-Mobile introduced its 12th Un-carrier move with Un-carrier 12 in 2016, announcing it would end data limits. Its new plan, T-Mobile ONE, gave unlimited calls and text as well as high-speed smartphone data. A year later, qualifying T-Mobile ONE users got an extra benefit: Netflix. With T-Mobile’s Netflix on Us deal, users got Netflix included in their plan.

2020: T-Mobile Merges With Sprint

In 2020, T-Mobile closed a $26 billion merger deal with Sprint, aiming to create a leading company in 5G. At the time of the acquisition, T-Mobile had 38% of the US pre-paid market, and Sprint had 16%. The combined company committed not to raise its prices for three years following the acquisition.

Sprint customers became T-Mobile customers, and got access to T-Mobile deals including T-Mobile Tuesdays. Launched in 2016, T-Mobile Tuesdays was part of the Un-carrier Campaign where customers got exclusive deals from food, fashion, entertainment, and travel brands.

According to T-Mobile, both existing and new customers would benefit from the merger, as the company would have:

  • 14 times more capacity: By 2026, T-Mobile said it would have the highest network capacity in the US, 14 times more than its 2020 capacity. This would allow users a better experience while streaming, gaming, and downloading.
  • 15 times faster speeds: Compared to T-Mobile’s LTE as of 2020, the merged company would become 15 times faster by 2026 thanks to 5G.
  • 5G for 99% of the US population: T-Mobile aims to provide fast 5G connections to 99% of the US population, including those living in remote areas.

On May 1, 2020, Mike Sievert became T-Mobile’s new CEO as John Legere stepped back. Sievert had been working at T-Mobile since 2012, first as Chief Marketing Officer and then as Chief Operating Officer. He announced that the company would continue its Un-carrier culture which its employees were passionate about.

2020-present: T-Mobile Becomes the Third Largest Wireless Carrier in the US

T-Mobile is the third-largest wireless carrier in the US today, holding 23.5% of the market as of Q3 2023. Prior to the Sprint acquisition, its market share was 16.9% in Q1 2020.

Chart showing the market share of US wireless carriers, with T-Mobile ranking the third-largest wireless carrier in the country

2022 was a record-breaking year for T-Mobile. Besides welcoming the highest number of new customers in its history, it also had an all-time-high customer retention rate. By the end of 2022, it had a total of 113.6 million pre-paid and post-paid customers, a considerable increase compared to 2012’s 26.1 million customers.

Because of its expansive 5G rollout plan, it outranked its competitors AT&T and Verizon in 2022, providing super-fast Ultra Capacity 5G services to 263 million in the US. In the 2022 fiscal year, the company had a net income of $2.6 billion, service revenues of $61.3 billion, and post-paid services revenues of $45.9 billion.

Also in 2022, T-Mobile partnered with SpaceX to announce Coverage Above and Beyond, a project aiming to bring complete phone connectivity anywhere, including mountains, deserts, and national parks. The project combines SpaceX’s satellite internet constellation Starlink with T-Mobile’s wireless network to make sure there are no dead zones for mobile phones, providing nearly complete phone connectivity.

By market cap, T-Mobile US has been the largest telecommunications company as of 2024, holding a market capitalization of over $190 billion. The second-largest company is China Mobile, followed by Comcast, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, and AT&T. The chart below shows the top 10 companies:

Chart showing the top 10 largest telecommunications companies by market cap, with T-Mobile US ranking first with a market capitalization of $190 billion

T-Mobile plans include discounts for people aged over 55, veterans, and first responders. Users can choose how many phone lines they want, and apply any discounts they are eligible for. T-Mobile’s Essentials Plan still costs $50 per month, the same as the Simple Choice Plan of 2013.

Below is a table showing the plan structure for four different plans, based on one phone line:

Plan Name Price What Does It Include?
Essentials Saver $50 Unlimited talk, text, and 5G & 4G LTE data, 50GB premium data, Unlimited 3G mobile hotspot data, and more
Essentials $60 Unlimited talk, text, and 5G & 4G LTE data, 5G access, 50GB premium data, and more
Go5G Plus $90 Unlimited talk, text, and 5G & 4G LTE data, Apple TV+, Netflix Standard with ads, unlimited premium data, and more
Go5G Next $100 Unlimited talk, text, and 5G & 4G LTE data, Apple TV+, Netflix Standard with ads, Now with Hulu, and more

T-Mobile Around the World

Deutsche Telekom is still the biggest shareholder of T-Mobile. In addition to the US, it operates in many European countries through their national companies. In the UK market, T-Mobile was called T-Mobile UK, but it merged with France Telekom to create EE in 2010. EE was later acquired by BT Group.

Here are the international representations of Deutsche Telekom companies:

Country Deutsche Telekom Subsidiary or Company Name
Germany Telekom Deutschland GmbH
Greece OTE Group
Croatia Hrvatski Telekom
Montenegro Crnogorski Telekom
North Macedonia Makedonski Telekom
Austria Magenta Telekom
Poland T-Mobile Polska
Romania Telekom Romania Mobile
Slovakia Slovak Telekom Group
Czech Republic T-Mobile Czech Republic
Hungary Magyar Telekom

When VoiceStream Wireless PCS was renamed to T-Mobile USA, it also changed its logo to its parent company Deutsche Telekom’s logo: a magenta-colored letter T and a grey “Mobile”. Since then, T-Mobile USA has kept the same logo but made several brand refreshes.

In 2007, Deutsche Telekom decided to start streamlining its brand presence by putting more emphasis on the T and embracing magenta as the brand color. This symbolized T-Mobile’s growing international presence, as Deutsche Telekom wanted to gather all its subsidiaries under the same roof.

As a part of the Un-carrier movement in 2013, T-Mobile US launched a new tagline, “T-Mobile un-leashed”. The campaign’s TV commercial featured four cowboys in black hats with little idea as to what they were doing. In the end, the fourth cowboy switched his black hat to a magenta hat, and rode toward another direction. This was T-Mobile’s way of saying it would fix the broken broadband industry and embrace the magenta brand.

In 2022, to mark the two-year anniversary of its merger with Sprint and to celebrate the new era of wireless with 5G, T-Mobile US announced a brand refresh. Moving on from Un-carrier’s 2013 magenta, it introduced New Magenta, a new color artists and color scientists generated after thorough research. CEO Mike Sievert said

“T-Mobile revolutionized the wireless industry and now we’re revolutionizing color as we know it with New Magenta. Never before has a color so perfectly captured the very essence of a brand.”

Besides corporate offices, the new color was set to make its way to all T-Mobile venues, including T-Mobile Park, T-Mobile Arena, and T-Mobile Center.

T-Mobile Arena at night

The Future of T-Mobile

Since it merged with Sprint, T-Mobile has been working toward the future of 5G. In 2022, it launched 5G Forward to help 5G reach its full potential. As a co-founder of 5G Open Innovation Lab, T-Mobile also aims to advance 5G through several venues and programs:

  • T‑Mobile Accelerator: T-Mobile works with companies around the world for the T-Mobile Accelerator program. As a part of the program, companies get access to T-Mobile’s 5G network to develop innovative experiences. In 2023, T-Mobile Accelerator focused on start-ups providing next-level fan experiences in sports.
  • The Tech Experience 5G Hub: A 24,000-square-foot technology innovation center, The Tech Experience 5G Hub brings together designers, engineers, and innovators to work on 5G and wireless technologies.
  • T-Mobile Ventures: T-Mobile is actively seeking to invest in mid and growth-stage companies, offering its extensive 5G network and enterprise relationships. For example, it became the telecom infrastructure company SignalWare‘s wireless provider, helping it develop voice, video, and messaging APIs.

In addition to 5G investments, T-Mobile announced it would continue the Un-carrier movement, focusing on customer satisfaction and innovation.


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