T-Mobile, AT&T Follow Verizon in Sweetening Service Deals

T-Mobile CEO John Legere has said there's no pricing war on, but the carriers keep tweaking what subscribers get for their money.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere has said the nation's wireless carriers aren't engaged in a "pricing war," but that's not what last week looked like.

T-Mobile on Friday, March 7, announced it was doubling down, adding more 4G LTE data to its Simple Choice plans at no extra cost. Its formerly 500MB plan is now 1GB, and its 2.5GB plan is now 3G.

Customers opting for its unlimited plan now have the option of twice the tethering. Currently, T-Mobile offers 2.5GB of tethering for an additional $20. For an additional $30, they'll instead be offered 5GB.

In October, T-Mobile announced that Simple Choice users no longer had to pay extra for international texting or data use, and on March 7, it announced it's adding seven additional countries where users can data roam free of charge.

All of this will go into effect March 23.

"In a couple weeks, every single one of our millions of Simple Choice customers will wake up with more value without lifting a finger," T-Mobile CMO Mike Sievert said in a statement. "Who does that? We do. Because that's what being the Un-carrier means—giving more to you without asking for more from you. I'd love to see our competitors try to follow suit."

It's a curious assertion, since on Feb. 13 Verizon Wireless did much the same thing, introducing More Everything and bumping its 500MB plan to 1GB, its 1GB to 2GB and its 2GB to 3GB.

It also increased users' cloud storage caps to 25GB per line, offering, it said, all the tools that users need to use their smartphones.

Earlier this month, Verizon also improved its prepaid plans, giving users more flexibility with a rollout data option.

AT&T, the company T-Mobile has said it has "in its headlights," also bettered its offerings this weekend. On March 9, it began offering lower-priced 2GB Mobile Share Value plans; those with a single line pay $65 a month ($15 off its previous offer) and those with two lines pay $90. A family or business with three lines can share 10GB of data for $145.

In all three cases, customers get 50GB of cloud storage—and unlimited international messaging. Customers can send texts at no charge from more than 190 countries, and messages with picture and video from 120 countries.

For a limited time, AT&T is also offering a $100 credit for each new postpaid line of service that's added, whether it's a smartphone, tablet, mobile hotspot or AT&T Wireless Home Phone.

"We're continuing the trend of offering more value to our new and existing customers," David Christopher, CMO of AT&T Mobility, said in a March 8 statement. "We're delivering more savings to more customers across the board—backed by award-winning customer service. With AT&T, the value keeps getting better."

During the fourth quarter of 2013, only Verizon added more new customers than T-Mobile, whose Un-carrier strategies—which have included dropping two-year service contracts, separating data and device pricing, offering monthly financing plans for devices and giving 200MB of free data each month to any tablet that can access its network—have forced its larger rivals to respond.

Since revealing its first Un-carrier move in March 2013, T-Mobile executives have provoked rivals, mocked the idea of their following T-Mobile's lead, but also said that their doing so would be good for customers and the industry.

Legere, during T-Mobile's Feb. 25 earnings call, said competition in the industry was in a "healthy" place—an assessment few would have made a year ago.

"I don't think any players in the industry would use the term 'pricing war,'" he told analysts and media during the call. "All of the players are just trying to protect their bases. … The changes taking place in the industry have been as much about the structure of how we're serving customers as it is about pricing. … I don't think it's a pricing war, and I don't think it will be."

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