2013: A year of reinvention – from phone subsidies to smartphone leadership

phil goldsteinBy Phil Goldstein

2013 was a year of reinvention--a shift away from the status quo in how the U.S. wireless industry operates.

T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) was the driving force behind much of this change in 2013. The company's new leadership, headed by CEO John Legere, challenged many of the conventions of the wireless business by doing away with contracts and international data roaming fees and offering free data to tablet customers. T-Mobile also launched a handset upgrade program that others imitated, accelerating a move away from device subsidies and toward device financing.

Another big advance in 2013 was the rise of the LTE network--the four Tier 1 carriers spent the year deploying and fine-tuning their nationwide LTE networks. The focus is now shifting to adding more capacity to LTE networks via wider spectrum channels. Such capacity will mean that customers will not only get faster speeds, but that the carriers will be able to add more LTE connections and deliver consistent service for them.

This comprehensive LTE coverage also gave rise to the next trend in wireless: The Internet of Things. The buzz about the Internet of Things hit a new high in 2013 but yet many questions remain, such as how all these new wirelessly connected devices--from appliances to cars to homes--will interact with each other, and perhaps more importantly, make money.

But 2013 was not just about the expansion of LTE and the rise of wirelessly-enabled devices. It was also a year that saw the demise, or near demise, of some wireless industry stalwarts. BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY), Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) all experienced some major changes in 2013 that will impact the future of their businesses and brands.

2013 was a year in which the status quo was challenged, and in some ways, defeated--setting up 2014 to be a year of continued change, reinvention and intense competition.

Check out our year in review stories below, covering all the top trends from 2013 in detail. And definitely let us know what you think in the comments. And don't forget to check out the FierceTelecom 2013 Year in Review and the FierceCable 2013 Year in Review. --Phil

P.S. FierceWireless will be on a publishing break for the holidays. We will be updating the website with any breaking news, but will be back in your inbox Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. Enjoy the holidays and have a Happy New Year!

2013: A year of reinvention – from phone subsidies to smartphone leadership

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