September 5, 2012

T-Mobile Offers Unlimited 4G Data Plan

Enid Burns for — Your Universe Online

The coveted iPhone has taken its toll on the carriers. Between the iPhone and the emergence of 4G LTE service, it has brought an end to unlimited data plans for most U.S. carriers. Perhaps staying away from the iPhone is a smart strategy for the struggling T-Mobile. This week the carrier introduced its Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan.

T-Mobile's new plan offers nationwide 4G coverage, unlimited 4G data and unlimited talk and text. The plan became available on September 5, 2012. It costs consumers $89.99 per month with a new two-year contract. What the plan doesn't cover is Smartphone Mobile Hotspot service, to get that bundled in with the unlimited plan will cost $94.99 per month.

"We're big believers in customer-driven innovation, and our Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan is the answer to customers who are frustrated by the cost, complexity, and congested networks of our competitors," said Kevin McLaughlin, vice president of marketing at T-Mobile USA. "Consumers want the freedom of unlimited 4G data. Our bold move to be the only wireless carrier to offer an Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan reinforces our value leadership and capitalizes on the strength of our nationwide 4G network."

T-mobile isn't actually the only carrier to offer unlimited data. Sprint has an unlimited plan that runs $99.99 per month with contract.

Existing T-Mobile customers have a few options. T-Mobile will let customers add the unlimited data to existing accounts. Subscribers can add the Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan for $20 per month for a Value voice and text plan, or $30 per month for a Classic voice and text plan. That brings the monthly total to $69.99 per month for the Value plan plus unlimited nationwide 4G data; or $89.99 for a Classic plan with unlimited nationwide 4G data. Family and other group packages change the terms.

AT&T discontinued its unlimited plans in 2010. Verizon followed suit a year later in July of 2011. While Verizon honored its unlimited plans for grandfathered customers, the carrier went back on that offer and is migrating subscribers to metered data plans when contracts are renewed.

T-Mobile itself used to offer an unlimited data plan, but stopped its unlimited service a year ago. The move is likely one attract new customers for T-Mobile. The strategy worked for Sprint, according to an article on Buffalo News. Where Sprint and T-Mobile's plans differ from Verizon and other unlimited data plans in the past is that they offer unlimited voice and text as well. "From a network management perspective, that makes sense, as calls and texts use very little network capacity, while video downloads and other data use can clog the network and slow the service for everyone," the Buffalo News article reads. "The iPhone and the data use it encouraged initially caused bit problems for AT&T in New York and San Francisco. Sprint's network is showing signs of congestion in some tests."

It's up to T-Mobile's marketing to sell the new Nationwide Unlimited 4G Data plan. Heavy data users may be attracted to a flat-rate, unlimited data plan after a few months of going over data limits, and paying the price.