T-Mobile US is relaunching its Test Drive offer, which allows new customers to try out the operator’s network free of charge for a 30 days. Rather than using a second phone, they will receive a Coolpad Surf Device hotspot with which to test the network. The hotspot features support for T-Mobile’s new 600 MHz frequencies. The trial is limited to 30 days or 30 GB of data, whichever comes first, with no charge for the customer.
Interested participants can sign up online for the hotspot device, which they must return to a T-Mobile shop at the end of the trial.
In addition to inviting people for a free trial, T-Mobile is rolling out a new campaign to illustrate its new, more powerful 600 MHz signal. The operator says the 600 MHz signals go twice as far from the tower and work four times better in buildings than mid-band signals, helping it provide better coverage in rural areas and deep inside buildings.
We think it is a wonderful idea to advertise and promote a network improvement—or a new kind of network—by giving customers and potential customers free access. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as the saying goes. So for T-Mobile US to offer customers the ability to try out its new 600 MHz spectrum and see if it really does penetrate buildings better and really does get to remote locations better, is savvy marketing. And 30 days or 30 GB seems like a very satisfactory quantity with which to make that determination and enjoy the free network access at the same time.
The only question, it seems to us, is whether the hotspot solution is really the way to accomplish the goal. Given that we are talking about a mobile network, users are going to be most interested in how the network performs in a maximally real-world setting. And that means with a mobile device. Trying out the network for speed and availability over a laptop or tablet, or over a phone only while on Wi-Fi inside one’s home, would seem to rather defeat the purpose, or at least leave customers feeling like they did not get the full experience. In addition to potential disappointment, they may even feel that they are left unsure whether they would get the same network advantages on the go with their smartphone that they did with the hotspot.