With more people cutting the cord, a critical social element of the family home phone is being lost. Individual family members have individual mobile numbers. There is no family line to speak of, so gone are the long conversations with grandma where Mom, Dad and the kids all participate on separate extensions. MetroPCS, however, has recreated the family phone home on wireless.
Along with releasing impressive Q1 subscriber numbers, MetroPCS announced GroupLineSM, a simultaneous ring service paired with conference calling that allows a caller to reach all members of a family plan through a single ‘home’ number. When a call to the group is made, all of its members’ phones ring simultaneously, and those that pick up are dumped into a conference where they can talk no matter where they happen to be.
MetroPCS said the service, for which it charges just $5 a month over the cost of the familyplan, is particularly relevant to its customers, 60% of which have already eliminated their home phone lines. The service not only provides an alternative for outsiders to reach the family as a whole, but individual family members can call the number to communicate with each other as a group.
In many ways, MetroPCS’s entire business model is based on mimicking home phone service via mobile, eschewing the minute buckets typical of the mobile industry. It’s cheapest plans allow for unlimited calling in customer’s home region and charge per-minute rates for long-distance, while its high-end plans provide unlimited long-distance and roaming within Metro’s footprint.
Today Metro also revealed it added 684,000 subscribers to its network in the 1st quarter. Those numbers aren’t just a company record, but they’re on par with the subscriber net adds of the Tier I operators. In Q4, T-Mobile brought in a net total of 621,000 new customers, while Sprint lost 1.3 million subscribers. While those operators measure their subscriber bases in the tens of millions, MetroPCS has 6.1 million subs, giving it an extraordinary growth rate. In the last 12 months, Metro has added 1.6 million customers, owing much to the launch of of several new CDMA markets on the east coast, including Philadelphia, Boston and New York.
As Metro fills out in its new markets, though, it may find its growth severely curtailed by its increasingly high churn rate. Overall churn in 4% to 5% year-over-year in the 1st quarter. While it added 1.5 million customers in Q1, it lost 816,000 more, almost as many net customers it acquired in the previous nine months.