T-Mobile Announces Truly Unlimited Data Plans

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News Posted: Wed, Aug 22 2012 5:16 PM
Most phone carriers these days are doing everything they can to hop off the unlimited data bandwagon. Both AT&T and Verizon have rolled out penalties for refusing to upgrade to their new shared plans; AT&T won't let you use FaceTime unless you've got a shared data plan, while Verizon is forcing customers to switch over if they want to keep their discounted phone upgrades. Now here comes T-Mobile -- moving in exactly the opposite direction.

Starting next month, T-Mobile will offer Unlimited data plans, as opposed to Unlimited* data plans. The asterisk denotes the invisible limitations on these services. In T-Mobile's case, the existing restrictions are actually pretty good -- the company soft-throttles when you cross the 2GB/5GB or 10GB mark depending on the plan you choose. User reports indicate that the company may toss you off the 3G network and leave you on Edge (2G) for the remainder of your billing cycle.

Even that clause is going away. Company reps have stated that the new plans are "truly unlimited," meaning no caps on data usage, period. The new plan will augment the company's existing services, meaning no one has to switch if you're happy with what you've got right now. The cost for subsidized users is $30/month, unsubsidized users, or those who bought their phones from a third party, will pay $20/month. These are figures for customers who also purchase voice/text service, which means the base price for truly unlimited data is $90 -- $5 cheaper than the company's current $95/5GB option.


T-Mobile's plan to repurpose its existing antennas for LTE service

T-Mobile's marketing VP, Kevin McLaughlin, is explicitly banking on his company's out-of-sync maneuver to boost earnings and attract new customers. "They’re confusing," Mr. McLaughlin said of the competitors’ plans. "They’re making people find out how many megabytes they want when they don’t even know what a megabyte is."

The big difference between the new Unlimited plan and the current Unlimited* option is that the Unlimited* plans allow users to share their phones Internet connection with other devices. That's a knock against the new service, but unlike some of the restrictions AT&T and Verizon have imposed, it's a fair one. Laptops and desktops can be enormous data hogs, and a handful of users with exorbitant usage really could hurt the company's ability to deliver good service to other customers in the same geographical area.

This Is Why Competition Matters

We couldn't ask for a better example of why the FTC was right to deny AT&T's bid to buy T-Mobile. Had it approved the merger, we'd be down to three mobile carriers -- AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. The latter two are actively trying to force heavy users to pay more money for less data, and Sprint hasn't stepped up to say it stands by unlimited service. Unless AT&T and Verizon see pushback from their "Share Everything" users, Sprint would have zero reason not to follow suit.


We're not suggesting you should pick a wireless carrier based on its spokesperson. That would be stupid. But she sure doesn't hurt.

Granted, it's not clear that T-Mobile's decision to offer truly unlimited service will boost company revenues or attract new customers. The company's road forward if this plan doesn't work is far from clear; upgrading from existing 2G/3G systems to new 4G LTE equipment is expensive. T-Mobile doesn't have the cash reserves that Verizon or AT&T do, and its parent company, Deutsche Telekom, was clearly more interested in getting rid of it than continuing to operate.  

Nevertheless, this announcement caught my eye and personal interest. I've been an AT&T customer for almost a decade, but this decision could be a reason to switch. T-Mobile may be looking to raise revenue, but it's doing so by offering a new option at a highly competitive price. AT&T and Verizon, in contrast, are punishing users with the audacity to use what they pay for by yanking privileges and sneering at the principle of net neutrality.

That's a noteworthy difference. Hopefully consumers are paying attention. If T-Mobile delivers what it promises, this could be an extremely attractive deal for heavy data users.
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Jaybk26 replied on Wed, Aug 22 2012 6:18 PM

Well done T-Mobile. I never use all of my monthly data, but that works for me. I have a brother who might switch carriers for this.:D It seems likely that the other big players will have to offer something at least as attractive to not lose their customer base. Hopefully that's the case.

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Yup at&t and verizon made a big mistake. Theres alot of turnover customers wanting that unkimited date coz now adys its all about social media instant messaging youtube and everything is done on the net not only that picture messaging and skyping. And if u have a data cap and you combine sharing of data feature youll go over and have a horrible experience. Good job tmoblie.

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rapid1 replied on Wed, Aug 22 2012 9:54 PM

I have been a Tmous subscriber now for almost a year and a half. I have had no problems I even switched the wife over and got my mom to switch over the two lines she has to t-mobile now as well. Of course me being the knowledgeably individual in the house IT wise I watch my data very closely. I got us in under the old data plans though so were "grandfathered" on the $10 data plan the funny thing is no one ever goes over and if they due there throttled for usually 2-3 days. Either way I pay for 2 smart phones both with data unlimited texting etc and it is like 104 a month and some change. The added plus and the reason I went with Tmous to begin with is totally free wifi calling included as no one that I have tried (Verizon, Sprint, and my brother has At&t) has service at my address but they all do 50 yards from my house (we are on a dead network corner its kind of weird especially where we are at) there is 4G service from all 4!

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SMcMahon replied on Wed, Aug 22 2012 10:22 PM

I would switch to Tmobile if indeed there's an iPhone 5 in their future. Hell it may behoove me to buy the iPhone unlocked and drop AT&T for Tmobile. I would have liked to stay with AT&T but I don't want to be forced to jailbreak in order to tether and use FaceTime, which will probably be necessary.

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deadmanet replied on Wed, Aug 22 2012 11:00 PM

I switched from AT&T to T-Mobile quite some time ago, and will never go back. Although I have no need to switch over to the new Unlimited, as I don't even come close to the current thresholds, I like seeing that it's available should that need arise.

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digitaldd replied on Thu, Aug 23 2012 10:07 AM

News:

 The big difference between the new Unlimited plan and the current Unlimited* option is that the Unlimited* plans allow users to share their phones Internet connection with other devices. That's a knock against the new service, but unlike some of the restrictions AT&T and Verizon have imposed, it's a fair one. Laptops and desktops can be enormous data hogs, and a handful of users with exorbitant usage really could hurt the company's ability to deliver good service to other customers in the same geographical area.

So no tethering if you go unlimited either via wire/WiFi/Bluetooth? I'll stick with my quota/cap.

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GAdams replied on Thu, Aug 23 2012 1:29 PM

The T-Mobile plan still requires an additional voice/text purchase that puts the total cost at $69.99 a month or higher. Solavei offers unlimited 4G text,talk and data using T-Mobile towers for $49 a month. They also pay you for sharing the plan with others http://49dollarcell.com

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izaG replied on Sat, Aug 25 2012 12:26 AM

Really? Yeah of course because they offer a great offer.Smile

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PKumar replied on Sun, Aug 26 2012 11:16 PM

Hope this doesnt; have some secret clause

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corleyman replied on Thu, Jan 17 2013 1:17 AM

T-Mobile rocks! Now that they've signed on MVNO Solavei, I have a no-contract, unlimited plan for only $49. But what's even better is that my cell phone bill is even shrinking each month as I refer others - it's actually turning into a great side business. Check out the savings and the opportunity: http://www.PenniesOverDollars.com

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