Business Monday

Gateway City/Who’s here: T-Mobile’s S. Florida headquarters oversees southeast region

Wanny Manasse, vice president of T-Mobile’s Southeast Area, which covers the Carolinas, Georgia and all of Florida except for the Panhandle, at regional headquarters in Sunrise.
Wanny Manasse, vice president of T-Mobile’s Southeast Area, which covers the Carolinas, Georgia and all of Florida except for the Panhandle, at regional headquarters in Sunrise. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

T-Mobile had been in fourth place among U.S. wireless telecommunications providers until earlier this year, when it moved into third place behind Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility, pushing Sprint Corp. into the fourth position.

This was a dramatic change in the hotly contested U.S. wireless market.

Based in Bellevue, Washington, T-Mobile made impressive gains in adding new net subscribers since 2013, when it launched what it calls the “un-carrier” strategy by offering customers service without annual contracts and following up with a series of bold initiatives that set it apart from other carriers in the U.S. wireless market.

“We removed some of the pain points for wireless customers,” said Wanny Manasse, the Sunrise-based vice president of T-Mobile’s Southeast Area, which covers the Carolinas, Georgia and all of Florida except for the Panhandle.

The company’s un-carrier initiatives — including no annual contracts, easier phone upgrades, a stronger national 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network and unlimited data — make wireless easier and more economical for consumers and for businesses, he said.

“As a result, we’ve grown from about 33 million subscribers three years ago to over 61 million now. We’ve had 10 consecutive quarters where we added over 1 million new net customers.”

A big draw has been T-Mobile’s offer to pay the early termination fees for people who want to switch service from another company to a more economical T-Mobile plan. The company also added Apple phones and tablets to its product lineup of Samsung, LG and Alcatel products, attracting new customers who wanted iPhones and iPads.

The company’s wireless system now reaches about 300 million people across the country.

While T-Mobile still lags Verizon, with more than 137 million U.S. wireless subscribers, and AT&T Mobility, with more than 126 million, it has posted impressive growth in recent years, leaving behind a period when it had been losing customers. It added 8.3 million new net subscribers in 2014 and 2.3 million just in the third quarter of 2015.

“We compete with everyone else in the wireless market, including the top players, prepaid phones and regional carriers,” he said.

In 2013, T-Mobile US was set up in its present form when its predecessor, T-Mobile USA took over MetroPCS Communications. As a result, T-Mobile offers a full range of monthly (postpaid) wireless services and devices, as well as prepaid phones available through MetroPCS, which provides a more economical option.

T-Mobile got its start in 1994 as VoiceStream Wireless PCS, a subsidiary of Western Wireless Corp.

South Florida customers have responded enthusiastically to T-Mobile’s new initiatives, Manasse said. “Growth has been strong in South Florida, one of the T-Mobile’s top 15 markets out of more than 200 markets in the country,” he said. T-Mobile does not release figures on regional revenues or customer growth for competitive reasons.

In the Miami area, demand for wireless is very high and average use outpaces the rest of the U.S. for all providers, he said. “Data use averages 4.1 gigabytes per month, which is higher than the national average. Customers here stream an average of 525 million songs per month and 126 million YouTube videos,” he said. “People love to record and share videos.”

Miami area customers talk more than two billion minutes per month.

International tourists and visitors often want access to wireless service as soon as they arrive, and T-Mobile offers daily and monthly plans. Visitors can buy SIM cards for their phones from T-Mobile at Miami International Airport.

At T-Mobile’s regional headquarters in Sunrise, Manasse oversees 1,200 employees from Miami to West Palm Beach. T-Mobile has 68 company-owned retail stores in South Florida, plus 29 stores owned by T-Mobile partners and is adding more. The company also sells its service and devices at national retailers.

With more than 20 years of experience in the telecom industry, Manasse started working for T-Mobile in 2006. He studied at Ramapo College in New Jersey and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in organizational leadership from Long Island University. Manasse, who is fluent in English, French and Creole, also completed the executive education program at Harvard Business School.

T-Mobile and its South Florida employees are active in community and charitable activities. Employees contribute and volunteer to help raise money for 4KIDS of South Florida and Big Cardio. They help to repair and equip schools and sports facilities. T-Mobile collects toys at its offices and stores each year as part of the Toys for Tots program, and has an employee match program for charitable contributions.

“Our un-carrier initiatives have challenged the wireless industry and have driven a lot of people to T-Mobile,” Manasse said. And it’s difficult for the largest companies to adjust quickly to some of these challenges, like unlimited data.

For example, the top carriers rely on their current revenue streams from data. If they reduce their data charge by $1 a month, that would mean a revenue loss of more than $100 million per month, times 12, he said.

“Our un-carrier programs continue to drive growth for us throughout the region,” Manasse said. “The top selling T-Mobile stores nationwide are in Miami. We are expanding, investing and adding new employees.”

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Business: T-Mobile US Inc. provides wireless service nationwide — including voice, messaging and data — through its T-Mobile and MetroPCS brands. T-Mobile was the country’s fastest growing wireless company in 2014 in terms of net new customers, adding 8.3 million. Currently, the company has 61 million customers in the U.S., up from about 33 million at year-end 2012, and its network now reaches more than 300 million people. T-Mobile’s top executive for its Southeast Area is based in Sunrise, and South Florida is one of the company’s top 15 markets out of more than 200 nationwide.

Founded: T-Mobile US was formed in 2013 when T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS Communications were combined. The company traces its roots to 1994, when it started out as VoiceStream Wireless PCS, a unit of Western Wireless Corp.

Corporate headquarters: Bellevue, Washington.

Southeast area headquarters: 1000 Sawgrass Corporate Parkway, Sunrise.

Regional management: Sunrise-based Wanny Manasse is vice president of the Southeast Area, which covers operations in the Carolinas, Georgia and all of Florida except the Panhandle.

Employees: 1,200 in South Florida; about 45,000 nationwide.

Customers: Approximately 61 million.

Revenues: $29.6 billion in 2014.

Ownership: T-Mobile US Inc. is traded on the NASDAQ (Symbol: TMUS). Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG owns approximately 66 percent of shares in T-Mobile US.


Source: T-Mobile