T-Mobile has begun selling the types of "un-carrier," contract-free plans that officials say consumers want.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere has been promising some very un-carrier-like moves from T-Mobile, and ahead of the big media event planned for March 26 in New York City, it has begun to deliver.
T-Mobile is now offering a contract-free smartphone plan starting at $50 for 500MB of 4G data (after 500MB, network speeds will slow down), unlimited talking and texting, and Mobile Hotspot service.
For $70 a month, users can get unlimited 4G data, unlimited talking and texting, and 500MB of Smartphone Mobile HotSpot service. With, again, no two-year contract.
Add a second line of unlimited 4G service, and that $70 increases to $120; three lines is $150, four is $180 and five is $210.
T-Mobile says that in many cases users can bring their own smartphones, if they're GSM capable and unlocked. For those purchasing new phones, it's offering an Equipment Installment Plan (EIP), which allows qualifying customers to purchase a new phone with an initial down payment and then ongoing payments on the phone for 20 months.
If a consumer purchases a new $550 phone with a down payment of $150, T-Mobile offers as an example, the monthly phone payment would be $20 for 20 months. That brings one's monthly payment to potentially $90 a month, which is still lower than most competing Tier 1 carrier offers—though all of its Tier 1 rivals insist on a two-year service contract.
One quibble with the deal is that T-Mobile's Long Term Evolution (LTE) network isn't yet live—though it's expected to be in the next few days. (If the rumors hold up, that's what T-Mobile will announce March 26.)
This year T-Mobile has said it will begin selling an Apple iPhone—another possibility for tomorrow's event—without a contract and with the offer of an EIP.
Since shortly after becoming CEO in September 2012, Legere has insisted that customers are fed up with the current model of mobile device plans.
"Customers are really still pissed off at the very unpredictable billing, very unclear pricing, restrictive and confusing upgrades, and unfair treatment of loyal customers and this whole way that we sell them a phone and bury the costs into a long-term contract and tie them in," he said during T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom's Capital Markets Day
in December 2012.
At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in January, Legere lambasted the same process
, insisting that if you landed on this planet and someone explained it to you, "you would get back in your spaceship and go [back to] where you came from. It makes no sense."
T-Mobile's plan to aggressively go after what it calls the "value" market includes its new un-carrier model and the acquisition of smaller prepaid carrier MetroPCS, which is in its final stages.
T-Mobile announced March 21 that the deal had received the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and now only needed the blessing of MetroPCS' shareholders
MetroPCS' largest shareholder, Paulson and Co., has expressed its unhappiness with the terms of the deal and said it will vote against it unless a better interest rate and debt amount can be worked out.
The vote is scheduled for April 12.
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