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T-Mobile Revamps Rate Plans, Drops Phone Subsidies

Bellevue, Wash. — On the eve of unveiling new marketing strategies and details of its 4G LTE launch, T-Mobile revamped its rate plans to offer plans only with unlimited talk and messaging.

 Through its direct channels, the carrier is including 500MB of high-speed data and offering additional buckets of high-speed data at additional charges. After the caps on high-speed data are reached, data speeds slow to 2G speed, but consumers can still consume an unlimited amount of data at those speeds.

Through its direct channels, T-Mobile is pairing these plans with the sale of no-contract unsubsidized phones. The carrier requires consumers to pay the phone’s full price up front or make a down payment of up to $199 and monthly payments of anywhere from $5 to $10 per month for 24 months.

It’s not known yet whether the handset-payment plans will be offered by indirect retailers or whether T-Mobile will continue to offer handset subsidies through those channels.

Under the plans appearing on T-Mobile’s website, consumers pay $50 for an individual line with unlimited talk and messaging and 500MB of high-speed data, which includes mobile hot spot service.

Consumers can add 2GB of additional high-speed data for $10/month for a total of 2.5GB of high-speed data with hot spot service included. For $70, consumers can get unlimited high-speed data but only 500MB of hot spot service.

T-Mobile’s website shows smartphones priced with down payments of $0 to $199 and monthly payment plans of $5 to $20. The full up-front price of the flagship Samsung Galaxy S 3 is listed as $549, or consumers can opt to make a down payment of $69 plus 24 monthly payments of $20 each. The full up-front price of the Samsung Galaxy Blaze is $413. Consumers can also opt to pay $15 for 24 months with no down payment.

Tomorrow, the carrier plans to unveil new marketing strategies and details of its 4G LTE rollout, hoping to propel itself out of its fourth-place subscriber-base rank among national carriers, plans next Tuesday to outline

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.