Earlier this week, a report surfaced that T-Mobile would begin offering data-only mobile plans to its customers, in much the same way it already offers data-only Internet plans to tablet customers.
Well, the rumor, fascinating as it was, was a bit right and a bit wrong, and I want to explain what we have since discovered about it all here at eWEEK.
It turns out that T-Mobile has been offering these data-only mobile plans, which also include unlimited texting, to hearing-impaired customers for as many as 10 years, according to a T-Mobile spokesman who commented anonymously about the report.
And while the original March 28 rumor story quoted a draft T-Mobile sales announcement which said the company would be launching new Simple Choice Data Only plans on March 30, the report was actually based on a "leak" by someone who didn't have accurate information, the spokesman told eWEEK.
The sales announcement was only sent out to T-Mobile sales associates and T-Mobile partner retailers to update the latest pricing for the data tiers available for the data-only plans, according to the spokesman. The company had "no plans" to announce it as a new service, since it already exists as an option for customers.
The announcement sent out to T-Mobile retailers "got a little bit blown out of proportion," the spokesman said. "It leaked and became a thing."
The data-only plans are not listed on T-Mobile's main Web pages, but is mentioned on the site's accessibility page. "T-Mobile's Simple Choice Data Only/Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) plans provide unlimited data and messaging services to customer phones without the need for voice services," the page states.
All customers have been eligible to purchase the data-only plans since they were established years ago, the spokesman said, but they were not highly publicized by the mobile carrier.
Customers can sign up for data-only plans in T-Mobile stores or by calling the company. Sign-ups are not possible through the company's Website.
The data-only plans allow customers to buy data in 2GB to 22GB monthly packages and also include unlimited texting. A 2GB data plan costs $20 a month, while a 6GB plan costs $35 a month. A 10GB plan is $50, a 14GB plan is $65, an 18GB plan is $80 and a 22GB plan costs $95 per month. The rates are the same that T-Mobile already offers for tablet users.
So while the data-only plans may not be new, they certainly are intriguing. They could work well for users who take advantage of WiFi or services such as Skype for their calling while ending the idea of paying for voice minutes they rarely would use.
It even makes me think about carrying one handset for voice calls with a cheap unlimited monthly calling and a minimal data plan, and another smartphone with T-Mobile for big buckets of cheaper data without monthly account fees.
That could be quite a combination. Excuse me while I go figure out the math for this possibility.