Oct 26 AT 12:36 PM Taylor Wimberly 45 Comments

T-Mobile will overhaul their data plans on November 3rd

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.

Via: TmoNews

Source: BGR

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://plankhead.com Zacqary Adam Green

    Of course, if you DO have a Nexus or hacked phone, I’d imagine you can still use it to tether, even though you’re not “allowed” to.

    • http://Website @neidlinger

      Any Rooted phone with a AD-HOC.apk will be flying under the radar.

      and they want us to think the G2 Root problem was an “honest mistake”…

      i’ve got some ocean front property in Arkansas if you want to buy some.

  • http://Website @neidlinger

    I guess with the new CEO that t-mobile has, they think they are running with the big dogs. I’ve been a loyal T-Mobile customer since 2001. They were VoiceStream when i first jump on board. But with the current 5Gig data limit “throttle back” and the 14.99 tether charge i might have to move to Verzion. Two HIGH END android w/ unlimited & unrestricted data and one tether plan would be cheaper than my current phone plan.

    I just wish T-Mobile would throw a bone to those that have supported them for so long instead of throwing them in a cage with limited kibble and water.

    • uzunoff

      That doesn’t make any sense. Just because you have been with them for some time doesn’t give you any special privileges and it will never will.
      Way to go finding something to feel special about :)
      And good luck with Verizon. Really curious to see what your bill will look like with them.

      • http://Website @neidlinger

        With my wife’s discount via her employer, they would actually be 10$ more per month, i checked into them when the Droid1 came out. .

  • http://www.theblarg.com nathan118

    So wait…I’m supposed to pay $15 extra for a feature that t-mobile took OUT of Android 2.2? I get no extra service…just the ability to use a new G2 for tethering/hotspot? I don’t get any extra data or speed from t-mobile….just the wonderful ability to use Android in a way that T-MOBILE crippled?

    So glad to have a Nexus One. I realize this is still a better deal than the other big carriers, but it’s so disingenuous. If you’re going to force people to pay for a feature that Android already should include, at least give the users a service related bonus.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Yup, that’s how every carrier operates now. Either pay the monthly $$$ tethering fee or hack your phone and do it for free.

      • http://www.theblarg.com nathan118

        Right…I know t-mobile isn’t the only one guilty of this. At least the other carriers offer something like more data usage on a tethering/wifi plan. T-mobile is literally just giving you access to software. (Though they’re a bunch of dummies if they think people will pay them $15 a month when you can get an app for less than that for a one time fee. Thank goodness Google isn’t policing the market like Apple. Hmmm, maybe that’s why Verizon is developing their own market….)

        I love T-mobile….but I guess “they’re not as bad as the big three” doesn’t satisfy me like it does some people.

        • http://Website Miles Davis

          Exactly–you don’t even have to “hack” (aka, Root) your phone. All you have to do is install an app like PDANet, and you have tethering. I have seen this work on a G1 very nicely, haven’t tried it on other phones.

  • http://Website Exile

    “Unlimited: $30 per month with contract, $25 per month without contract”

    Am I missing something here? If you have a contract with T-Mobile, they charge you MORE to have the unlimited data plan? I would have thought that signing a contract with them would be a good thing…

    • http://www.theblarg.com nathan118

      If you signed a contract, you also saved $300+ on the smartphone. The even more plus plans are all cheaper because T-mobile isn’t subsidizing any of those phones.

      • http://Website Exile

        Oooooh, good point. Thanks! :-)

        • http://www.theblarg.com nathan118

          But I guess that means having us locked into a contract for two years isn’t very valuable to them. It’s cheaper to buy most phones outright, and then pay less per month. Over two years that’s usually cheaper than going the subsidized route. So I guess that’s why they don’t “reward” you with anything for signing a contract. It’s more like leasing a car. Less money up front, but more expensive in the long run.

          • http://plankhead.com Zacqary Adam Green

            Well, yes, you and I know that because we’re the type of people who post grammatically correct comments on the Internet.

            The average person, however, sees only the ability to immediately save $400 on a phone purchase.

      • McLovin

        I ran the numbers and for me it saved $200 over 2 years if I purchased the phone outright and was NOT on contract. More important than the few hundred $ saved was not getting marooned on a phone for 2 years. I did that with the G-1 and 2 years is an awfull long time to be locked into a phone especially in a market with technology that is evolving so fast.

        • http://Website Todd

          You’re not locked into a phone with T-Mobile. You can go and buy a better phone, and swap your sim into the new phone. You’re just locked into the contract. That’s why I was hoping the Tab would have phone capabilities. I carry my phone when I don’t think I’m going to be doing serious web browsing, but I carry the Tab when I will be, but not both. Hopefully, the circuitry will still be there, and we’ll just need a hack to enable it, but it depends on what is cheaper for Samsung.

  • http://Website Galen20K

    Sounds very fair and appropriate.

  • http://flavors.me/davidmnoriega David

    I think these options are great. Yea tethering isn’t free as I think most people think it should be, but then I’ve never used it. As for the 5GB cap, thats fine too. For those who feel thats too small, then you are doing things you shouldn’t be doing, or you need to pay for a plan that is meant for whatever it is you are doing.

    But then there is the video question. Those who consume video will run into the cap with a legitimate use of the network. I think this is why we see the push of branded video services(Tmobile TV?) as they will be on the inside of Tmo’s network and thus probably exempt from a cap as opposed to whatever video source you use that is outside of their network(youtube, slingplayer, etc). Now does this go against net nutrality? I’m not sure. But in the end I think they need to revisit the price points for both tethering and mobile tv.

    • http://www.theblarg.com nathan118

      “or you need to pay for a plan that is meant for whatever it is you are doing. ”

      There is no other plan. If you want truly unlimited data/bandwidth, you can’t get it on t-mobile. Not a huge deal to me as my cell data connection will never replace my home line (…if it ever does, we’re still a long way from that).

  • http://Website Holly

    I heard that certain phones will not be allowed to have the $10 a month plan- specifically the MyTouch phones. Any news on this?

  • http://Website Tyler

    Are they allowed to change the terms while I’m under a contract? If they are then I’m just going to cancel my contract. We’re under contract then both the consumer and provider are legally binded by that.

    • http://Website K

      I think they don’t change anything. Read the Terms and Conditions which you agreed.

      Current terms and conditions says:
      - If your total usage exceeds 5GB (…omit…) during a billing cycle, we may reduce your data speed for the remainder of that billing cycle.

      - Unless explicitly permitted by your Data Plan, (…omit…) tethering your Device to a personal computer or other hardware, are not permitted.

      • http://Website Raptor

        Wrong, that’s new TAC. Old tac which you signed had no such wordings.

        Before Soft limit was 10 GB. That’s affects 1 or 2 % but that’s exactly those percents which post here, they are showing that’s they are greedy jerks like everyone else.

        Also before tethering was not supported but unofficially permitted with mentioned cap. Unofficially means TAC did not mentioned it, but all at magenta told you that’s you can do that. need a link?

        • http://Website K


          People still in a two year contract period must have signed within two years. At June 2008, one before Terms and Condition clearly state 5GB limit and prohibited tethering.

          • http://Website Raptor
          • http://Website K

            So what you want to say Sir? I know current situation.

            That means T-Mobile currently do not enforcing their policy. However, not means any contract changes. Written contract, terms and conditions which you signed are not changed. And, new pricing/addons/terms are exactly following current Terms and Conditions which most people agreed.

            Once, they want to enforce their original policy, which stated on contract, they can do without any legal problems.

          • http://Website Raptor

            Can anyone follow your logic? [email protected], these new coming rules mean exactly opposite. No more free tethering and the cap 5 instead of 10.

  • http://Website leo

    Just got the txt and I have unlimited data plan

  • http://Website Andpc01

    Does this mean that my “Android Unlimited Web Bundle,” will change? Instead of paying 25$ a month its now going to be $30

    • McLovin

      I doubt it. When you move to a new phone your old Android Unlimited Web Bundle will not be available and you will have to choose from the new data plans.

  • Azeem

    Wow. I swear I just made a comment about this on another article. Sad to see true unlimited going away, but since I only use about 2.5GB/month, this really doesn’t affect me much. Tmo is still the best. :-)

  • http://Website djy

    Stop overreacting people, this really isn’t a big deal. The average user gets more options to save money. And those who really want to tether can get PDAnet, easy tether or hack their phone. Only the uninformed would pay a monthly charge for tethering.

  • http://Website Todd

    $15 a month is too much when all I’m doing is using the “unlimited” data I’m already supposed to be getting on a second device. It should be $5 if you’re staying under the 5gb “soft” limit, $10 for a second range of something to something, and $20 if you’re a real road warrior pulling down above some limit. And it should charge me according to what I’m actually using that month. If I’m under the 5gb this month, I get charged $5, but if next month I go over the 5gb, the charge me the $10. Matter of fact, that’s how everything should be. No human interaction goes into billing us, so there’s no reason that can’t implement this.

  • Tebbe

    The 5GB soft cap is nothing new. When I activated my N1 last January, the description above is exactly how the rep explained the data plan to me. Full speed to 5GB, then reduced speed beyond that. I assume they shut off 3G when you hit 5GB, but I’ve never left the 2-3GB/month range so I can’t confirm.

  • http://Website Nammy

    200mb is actually quite a lot, I’m on AT&T with that and I use my smartphone more then just about anyone I know. I read web forums 30 minutes each day on the bus and check the weather and my emails hourly.

    I never broke the 200mb mark yet, I usually am around 130-170 for the month.

    You just can’t run around streaming youtube and Pandora 24/7

    • http://Website Raptor

      are you handling turtoses website? 200 MB is exactly zero. [email protected]n, just one single DivX movie is typically 700MB and we are moving in the direction of 4g speeds

  • http://Website Raptor

    300 seconds on 6 mbps speed and you are done for a month….

    • http://Website Ted C.

      Actually that calculation should be Mbs / 8 bits per byte = .75 MBs (since the transmission is specified in bits while the cap is specified in bytes)

      5GB = 5000 MB so 5000MB/.75MBs = 6667 sec at 6Mbs to hit the cap. That’s 111 minutes. But realistically a 6mbs line is only going to deliver at best 4mbs because of protocol overhead. So it would be something closer to 3 hours.

      Streaming video would exhaust that pretty quickly. But even worse, it appears that once they “throttle” us that the remaining bandwidth is so slow (slower than EDGE) that the internet access is basically unusable. That means that unlimited is really no longer true.

      • http://Website Raptor

        i was talking about 200MB limit some unsuspecting souls and novices will take. They will hit some button by mistake and in 5 minutes will be out of limit :)

  • http://Website mihavitmalakai10

    im just curious about nexus one users that paid full price for there phone without changing ones plan or notifying tmobile that u have this device. if i use tethering or hotspot on my device will tmobile know and bill me for using a feature that my phone came with for free in the frist place. i dont want to be hit with a surprise bill becuz im using tethering on my nexus one. i dont know why such a change if tmobile branded phones are not tether friendly anyway. why should i pay $15 extra to use the same internet service im using now to give wifi to other devices especially if im not going over the new 5gb cap anyway? sometimes i worry that t-mobile are becoming greedy like the other companys. i like tmobile but metro pcs coverage are better in some areas then tmobile the 4th leading cellphone company. i beieve tmobile need to increase the coverage and signal strength.

  • http://Website Wes

    I hope you people feel stupid for dropping fav 5 plans

  • http://Website Raptor

    I read more and more (surprised that Engadget sounded specifically encouraging) that cell users finally start to realize that if greedy network jerks impose the limit they do not have to charge for tethering. It’s not their damn business how i use my limit for which i already paid.

  • http://Website Greg

    Uhh, I wonder how this will affect Nexus One users who are taking advantage of the unlimited 3G for $10/month (or less) loophole.

    I knew this day would come.

  • http://Website Nick

    Sounds ok but boy, does that tethering fee burn me up. Nothing like paying for a service twice. It’s like having data and then charging for text messages. Oh, wait….

  • Garar

    @neidlinger I hate to burst your bubble, but TMO is much cheaper than verizon, especially by allowing someone to buy off contract. And don’t be silly, Veri$on also has a 5GB cap which I think they aren’t quite so nice about when you reach it. Tethering is still the same price. I’ve been with Verizon since I got my first cell phone, (what can I say, never left mom and dad’s network) and the only reason I’m still with them is due to everyone I know being on Verizon.

    Long story short though, TMO offers more minutes, ability to text any carrier for free (unlike my 500 text cap outside verizon) and $25 a month data for unsubsidized plans. Even playing devil’s advocate for Verizon my wife and I will come out 400 bucks ahead at the end of a verizon contract by switching to TMO.