By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Bellevue, Wash. – T-Mobile is heating up competition in the cellular-data market by once again offering unlimited-data plans without speed limits for smartphones.
The No. 4 carrier, which has been losing subscribers, plans a Sept. 5 launch of Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan, which will cost $20/month when added to a single-line Value voice and text plan or $30/month when added to a single-line Classic voice and text plan. The new plan is available to new and existing subscribers.
Currently, T-Mobile’s 4G HSPA+ data plans for smartphones provide unlimited data, but once a user exceeds their plan’s full-speed data cap, speeds revert to 2G speeds of 50kbps. T-Mobile has promoted those plans as eliminating the extra charges that other carriers apply when a data cap is exceeded. T-Mobile other data plans impose full-speed caps of 200MB, 2GB, 5GB, and 10GB.
These current 5GB and 10GB plans, however, include activation of a phone’s mobile hot spot service, whereas the new unlimited plans don’t include hot spot activation.
T-Mobile’s announcement follows the launch by regional no-contract carrier MetroPCS of an unlimited talk, text and 4G LTE data plan for $55/month during a limited-time promotion whose duration has not been specified. Consumers who activate a plan during the promotional period will be able to keep the plan for as long as they maintain service with MetroPCS. An account’s second, third and fourth lines pay only $50/month. The carrier’s regular price is $75/month.
With T-Mobile’s announcement, only Sprint and T-Mobile among the four national carriers offer unlimited-data plans for smartphones. Both Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the two largest national carriers, stopped offering unlimited-data plans in recent years to new subscribers in favor of offering tiered data plans with usage caps and fees for exceeding the caps.
T-Mobile contends subscribers combining its unlimited data plan with its Classic unlimited talk and text plan will pay $89/month, or $20 less than they would pay on a similar Sprint 4G plan. With a T-Mobile Value plan, a subscriber’s monthly airtime costs would drop to $69/month, but that excludes monthly installment-plan payments that consumers make for 20 months to purchase a handset after making a down payment on the handset.
Both the T-Mobile and Sprint unlimited plans exclude the cost of activating a phone’s Wi-Fi hot spot capability.
Compared to the new AT&T and Verizon shared-data plans offering 4GB of shared data, consumers would also save $20/month, T-Mobile contends. AT&T offers shared data plans with caps of 1GB to 20GB, and Verizon’s shared-data plans offer from 1GB to 10GB. The AT&T and Verizon plans, however, include use of a phone’s hot spot feature.
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