T-Mobile USA will in January start allowing its customers to keep any unused data in their monthly data plans and roll it over for future use, giving customers more control and fuller potential use of the data allocations that they pay for each month.
The new feature, which T-Mobile is calling "data stash," was unveiled Dec. 16 by the company in a Webcast event as part of its latest "Un-carrier 8.0" product unveilings. T-Mobile likes to call itself the "Un-carrier" because it says it does the things that traditional carriers won't try.
New and existing customers, including individuals, families and businesses, will be eligible to roll over and stash their leftover monthly 4G LTE data allocations under postpaid Simple Choice Plans. To receive the free data rollover, customers must have a minimum 3GB data plan for their smartphones or a 1GB minimum plan for their tablets.
All customers will also get a free one-time 10GB extra data allotment for use in the first 12 months, as part of the package. After customers use up the free 10GB bonus data allotment, their accounts will begin accruing any leftover data from their monthly data plans.
"It's your data; what you don't use, you won't lose" anymore, John Legere, T-Mobile's CEO, said during the Webcast. "This game is rigged by the big guys," he said of competitors Verizon Wireless and AT&T, which continue to sell large monthly data plans that typically are not fully used by customers. "They get you in multiple ways."
Out of some 231 million prepaid mobile users in the United States this year, about 120 million have data allocation caps on their services, but they are always guessing about how much of a data plan they truly need, said Legere. Out of those, some 13 million U.S. customers get hit with data cap overage penalties from their carriers, he said, which totaled some $1.5 billion in 2013. T-Mobile dumped overage charges for its customers this past April.
Those data charge penalties scare customers, said Legere, causing about 46 percent of consumers to pay for bigger data plans that they don't ultimately use and don't get to roll over for later use with other carriers.
"At the end of the month, they have 3GB left over, which is worth about $40 per person or about $480 a year," which is being collected by other carriers even when they didn't provide the services, he said.
"What we're now allowing you to do is roll it over, to get a data stash," he said. "And we're giving every customer 10GB free, to get you going, and I think this is something that is going to shake up the industry."