T-Mobile's 'Even More' Unlimited Plan is $80 and Sort of Limited

T-Mobile has lowered its unlimited plan to $80, saying customers can save $350 a year over competitors' deals. But when customers exceed 2GB, its service slows down.

T-Mobile may eventually become the property of competitor AT&T, but for the time being it's proceeding with business as usual, looking to out-compete AT&T, Verizon and Sprint with the introduction of an $80 Even More unlimited calling, texting and data plan on its 4G network.

"While data plans for many of our competitors continue to be very expensive, T-Mobile is lowering the price of our unlimited plan and offering more options, making it easier than ever for customers to step up to a richer mobile data experience on our 4G network," John Clelland, T-Mobile senior vice president of marketing, said in an April 13 statement.

The plan is contingent on a two-year contract and features "no overage charges," according to T-Mobile. Sort of. Customers who exceed 2GB of usage per billing period, the company explained in the statement, "will still have access to unlimited data at reduced speeds until their new billing cycle."

Beware the end-of-month slow-motion zone! Or not. According to T-Mobile, its 4G smartphone customers, on average, use about 1GB of data per billing period.

T-Mobile's 4G network, which it calls America's largest, covers 167 markets and is based on HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access) technology-which, while speedy, is a precursor to the LTE (Long-Term Evolution) 4G technology that Verizon Wireless uses for its 4G network and that AT&T, which currently also offers HSPA+ 4G, plans to begin rolling out toward the middle of this year. AT&T's $39 billion bid to purchase T-Mobile-which, in a process estimated to take nearly a year, first needs to be approved by federal regulators-is ultimately about 4G LTE, and the even bigger network AT&T will be able to build with T-Mobile's assets. Or, at least as many as those assets as regulators-such as the Federal Communications Commission, wanting to maintain at least a "residue of competition" in the industry, as FCC Commissioner Michael Copps recently said on CSPAN-will let them keep.

T-Mobile introduced its 4G network in November 2010, along with its first 4G-capable phone, the T-Mobile myTouch 4G, which runs Android 2.2 and features a 3.8-inch display, a 1GHz processor and a 5-megapixel camera with high-definition video-recording and video-chat capabilities.

T-Mobile's new plan, paired with its "extensive lineup of affordable smartphones, allows customers to save more than $350 per year on an unlimited smartphone plan, compared with similar plans from AT&T, Verizon and Sprint," the company said in the statement.

In January, Sprint announced that it would continue to offer its smartphone owners unlimited data access, but it would begin to charge a $10 monthly Premium Data fee for the service. On April 11, Sprint launched a new advertising campaign that riffs on The Beatles' "All Together Now" and enthuses, "Unlimited is good. And thanks to Sprint, you can talk, text and post as much as you want. For no extra cost. So go ahead, world. Unlimit yourself."

Sprint offers a Simply Everything Plan-including unlimited text, Web, calling, email, social networking, GPS navigation, TV and radio-for $100 plus the $10 Premium Data add-on, or an Everything Data plan, with unlimited text, Web and calling to and from any mobile phone for $70 a month plus the $10 add-on.

Verizon and AT&T each tack on an additional fee once customers pass 2GB of data use.