By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Bellevue, Wash. – T-Mobile, hoping to propel itself out of its fourth-place subscriber-base rank among national carriers, plans next Tuesday to outline a new marketing strategy and details of its long-awaited 4G LTE launch.
Last December, the carrier said it would end cellphone subsidies in 2013 and hinted at eliminating contracts on all cellphone plans.
The carrier had already gone part way in adopting those strategies, having in mid-2011 created optional Value voice and data plans, which eliminate handset subsidies but still have two-year contracts.
To help compensate for paying an unsubsidized phone price, the Value plans’ monthly service prices are lower than those of the company’s Classic plans, which feature subsidized handsets. Value plan users pay for an unsubsidized phone either by paying the full handset price up front or by making a down payment and spreading out the remaining cost of the phone over time with interest-free payments over 20 months.
The company has already announced many details of its planned 4G rollout, beginning last year when it said it would install new equipment at 37,000 cell sites, add 4G LTE in 2013 to the AWS band in which it currently offers 4G HSPA+ service, and make room for LTE in the AWS band by migrating 4G HSPA+ technology to its 1900MHz band, where it currently offers 2G service.
Earlier this week, the carrier said it would turn on LTE service at the end of this month, though it didn’t say in how many markets. The carrier also said it was “on track to have 100 million Americans covered by LTE mid-year and 200 million people with LTE by the end of 2013.” The carrier’s HSPA+ 21 and HSPA+42 networks, promoted as delivering a “4G experience,” already reach 220 million people.
Some news reports contend T-Mobile will make other major rate-plan changes by making all rate plans include unlimited talk and texting and 500MB of data, with the only options being for additional data in increments of 2GB from 2GB through 12GB, with an unlimited-data option that also includes Wi-Fi tethering to a computing device or mobile hot spot service.
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