In a little over a week, T-Mobile will completely overhaul their data plans in an attempt to give customers more options. A new cheaper data tier will become available for those looking to save some cash, tethering plans will finally be added, and T-Mobile will clarify exactly what “unlimited” data means. Read on after the jump for the full details.
Tiered data plans ($10/$30)
We all knew this was coming. The carriers and the handset makers want more people to buy smartphones and the quickest way to make that happen is by offering cheaper data plans. T-Mobile will create two tiers of data plans that are targeted at two different types of users.
- 200 MB: $10 per month, 10c/MB overage with $30 max overage, text message warning at 180 MB and 200 MB, speed reduction at 5 GB
- Unlimited: $30 per month with contract, $25 per month without contract, text message warning at 5 GB, speed reduction at 5 GB
Now I know 200 MB doesn’t sound like a lot of data, but it fits perfectly for the new customer that has never owned a smartphone. They most likely have no idea of all the cool things their phone can do that suck data, but 200 MB will still allow them to email, Tweet, and update their Facebook status.
Basically, you can think of this $10 plan as training-wheels for a new smartphone. It allows a new customer to experience using a smartphone, warns them when they approach their data cap, and limits the total overage cost at $30 so they don’t accidentally end up with a bill the size of their mortgage. If a user sees the benefits of owning a smartphone and understands they need more data, they can upgrade to the $30 unlimited plan at any time.
Speaking of unlimited plans, not much will change in terms of pricing. T-Mobile was currently charging a $30 premium for unlimited data and that will continue.
Tethering and WiFi sharing add-on ($14.99)
T-Mobile is the only major U.S. carrier without an official tethering plan, but that will change next month. Because T-Mobile’s terms & conditions have not allowed tethering in the past, many users were getting it for free (like those with a Nexus One or hacked phone) but that is coming to an end.
Starting November 3rd, T-Mobile will offer a tethering add-on for $14.99 per month.
The charge will be in addition to the monthly data plan and must be paired with an unlimited plan with a value $19.95 or higher. The tethering add-on is intended only for smartphones and devices like the upcoming Galaxy Tab will have to use one of the existing webConnect plans.
Personally I think tethering should be free if I already pay for a bucket of data, as long as I don’t go over my usage cap and abuse the service. However, T-Mobile will have the cheapest tethering plan of any major carrier so it’s hard to complain about that.
5 GB soft cap for unlimited data
Along with the new data plans and add-ons will come a new soft cap for unlimited plans. Once a customer reaches 5 GB of data in one billing cycle, they will receive a text message notifying them that download speeds will be reduced.
Customers will still have full web access once they cross the 5 GB threshold, but at slower speeds until the billing cycle resets. Users will be able to track their data usage through the My T-Mobile site or My Account Android app. I consider myself a pretty heavy smartphone user, and I normally consume 2-3 GB per month.
It has been said that only 2% of wireless users exceed 5 GB per month, but I understand the possible frustration if you fall in that category. If you need a dedicated wireless internet connection, I suggest checking out T-Mobile’s webConnect devices and plans or even Sprint’s 4G offerings.