Strange war of words erupts over T-Mobile job cuts


T-Mobile announced on Thursday that the company is cutting its call center operations from 24 to 17. This will result in a loss of approximately 1,900 jobs at those call centers. However, T-Mobile will also begin hiring approximately 1,400 people to fill positions at the remaining 17 call centers, and will offer those new jobs to the people who are losing their jobs at the call centers being closed. The company said it will be offering relocation expenses to those employees.

The new job loss at T-Mobile call centers will be about 500 full-time equivalents, although significantly more employees are affected because of T-Mobile's job sharing program. "Concentrating call centers is an important step to achieve competitive cost structures to successfully compete as challenger and value player in the wireless market," said Philipp Humm, CEO and President of T-Mobile, in a prepared statement. "These are not easy steps to take, but they are necessary to realize efficiency in order to invest for growth."

AT&T (NYSE: T), meanwhile, issued a statement saying in essence, "I told you so." Actually the statement was an unusually blunt blast of the Federal Communications Commission, which turned down AT&T's attempt to buy T-Mobile USA in 2011. "Normally, we'd not comment on something like this," said Jim Cicconi, AT&T's senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs, in his public policy blog. "But I feel this is an exception for one big reason--only a few months ago AT&T promised to preserve these very same call centers and jobs if our merger was approved. We also predicted that if the merger failed, T-Mobile would be forced into major layoffs."

"The FCC argued that the merger would cost jobs, not preserve them, and that rejecting it would save jobs," Cicconi continued. "In short, the FCC said they were right, we were wrong, and did so in an aggressive and adamant way. But for the government's decision, centers now being closed would be staying open, workers now facing layoffs would have job guarantees, and communities facing turmoil would have security. Only a few months later, the truth of who was right is sadly obvious."

For its part, T-Mobile has escalated the war of words with AT&T. The original merger deal that has produced AT&T's invective was the idea of T-Mobile USA's parent company Deutsche Telekom, and was seen with some alarm within the ranks of T-Mobile's U.S. staff. That may explain the new publicity campaign aimed at tweaking AT&T. The new campaign includes a big pink square that asks, "Want your iPhone 4 to be 4G? There's not an app for that."

The idea behind the new T-Mobile publicity is to draw the attention of AT&T customers to the fact that T-Mobile is building out its new 4G network on frequencies that will work with the iPhone. T-Mobile has been actively recruiting disaffected AT&T customers for some time now, even offering iPhone tech support and accessories. Now, with the new 4G buildout, which uses spectrum ceded by AT&T as part of the merger breakup, T-Mobile is going after AT&T's customers, and its iPhones.

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