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Wireless Expert: T-Mobile CEO's 'Renegade' Approach Appears To Be Paying Off

T-Mobile lost more money in the most recent quarter than it did a year earlier, but one longtime wireless expert says the Bellevue company’s bid to shake up the mobile-phone industry appears to be paying off. 

T-Mobile has long been considered an afterthought in the mobile world, much smaller than giants like Verizon and AT&T. But for the past year and a half, the company’s had a new CEO, John Legere, who’s used that underdog status as an advantage.

The company has veered away from accepted industry norms like locking people into two-year contracts, and recently started paying new customers' early termination fees so they can get out of their contracts with other carriers.

Dennis Roberson, vice provost at Illinois Institute of Technology and a former top executive at Motorola, calls Legere a renegade. He says the fact that T-Mobile added more than four million new customers last year shows Legere’s approach seems to be working.

"He has taken a lot of the practices that were absolutely standardized and almost stone-chiseled kind of ways of doing business, and broken the stone and written new rules," Roberson said. 

There’s been talk for quite a while that T-Mobile is an acquisition target for Sprint. But a top Justice Department official recently praised T-Mobile for creating more competition and adopting more consumer-friendly policies. So that seems to indicate regulators might push back against a merger of Sprint and T-Mobile.

In any case, Roberson says T-Mobile is making the right moves to boost its customer base and invest in its network to stay a viable, independent company.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.