T-Mobile is moving to a single, unlimited data plan (but don't skip the fine print)

By Shawn Knight · 26 replies
Aug 18, 2016
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  1. T-Mobile CEO John Legere on Thursday announced a new “Un-carrier” move that’ll likely once again shake up the wireless industry – the end of data plans. As you may have come to expect from wireless carriers at this point, the devil is in the details.

    T-Mobile’s new plan, dubbed T-Mobile One, offers customers unlimited high speed data plus unlimited talk and text for $70 per month for the first line, $50 for the second line and $20 per additional line after that for up to eight lines total. You can add additional lines past eight but they’ll cost $30 each.

    The plan includes unlimited standard definition video streaming – if you want HD streams (up to 4K quality), it’ll cost you an additional $25 per month, per line. Earlier carrier perks like Simple Global, Mobile Without Borders, Carrier Freedom, Wi-Fi Unleashed, Stock Up and T-Mobile Tuesdays are all included with T-Mobile One.

    That sounds like a decent deal at first but it completely undermines its Binge On service which provides unlimited music and video streaming (480p quality) when using select content providers (the list is quite long as this point and includes almost all of the big names).

    And let’s be honest with ourselves – streaming music and video are the main culprits contributing to data overages these days. So really, if these things were already free, what’s the attraction here?

    Furthermore, tethering will be limited to 2G speeds under T-Mobile One, which at this point is more or less unusable in all but emergency situations. You can add 5GB of high speed tethering but it’ll cost you $15 per bucket.

    Also, in the fine print under the “network management” section, you’ll see that T-Mobile reserves the right to “prioritize” traffic among its highest-consuming users (currently those that use more than 26GB of high speed data per month). In other words, if you use more than 26GB in a given month (which is incredibly easy to do if you’re streaming high-resolution video) then you may see your speeds throttled during times of high network use or congestion.

    It’s worth noting that existing T-Mobile subscribers will be able to hang on to their current plans and aren’t being forced into the new plan. T-Mobile’s strategy, however, is to eventually phase out all data plans and offer T-Mobile One only.

    The new approach isn’t necessarily a bad deal but it’s far less attractive once you unpack the details. As always, do your research and evaluate which carrier and plan is the best for you and your family before making a decision.

    T-Mobile One will be available beginning September 6 for postpaid customers. Those with prepaid accounts will get the option sometime in the future, we’re told.

    Image courtesy solarseven, Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,331   +1,434

    Wow, once again T-Mobile is trying to find ways to give customers what they want and everyone is looking at it as a bad thing, again...

    There are very real limitations to cellular network infustructure and I think T-Mobiles plan is absolutely reasonable considering those limitations.
  3. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 3,000   +1,320

    Yea how about for a single person? 70 a month? I can get a decent plan for $40...I was gonna do tmobile for its binge-on thing but not for that much.
  4. Axiarus

    Axiarus TS Maniac Posts: 253   +126

    T-Mobile likes to scoff at Net Neutrality...so.
  5. Axiarus

    Axiarus TS Maniac Posts: 253   +126

    I will stick to Project Fi. I pay for what I use, easy peasy.
  6. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    The solution to all those exorbitant costs is simple and common sense really, don't stream music or videos over mobile data unless you have really deep pockets and cost is not a concern.
  7. Panda218

    Panda218 TS Evangelist Posts: 465   +217

    How do you like Project Fi? The one reason I havent switched is because I read that they won't support band 12 and my tmobile service has been amazing since the band 12 was activated on my 6p.
  8. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,331   +1,434

    Put your talking points away. T-Mobile found a way to give customers more without passing on the costs associated with it. Content providers want to make more from advertising revenue, consumers want to "consume" more. Content providers take a small hit, but make money more from advertising. Consumers get to stream and watch more from mobile without paying more, ever to be wins. While this is technically a violation of net neutrality, it is just that, a technicality.

    Costs associated with mobile data are very real, although not as real as AT&T or Verizon would have you believe. Its expensive and someone has to pay for it. T-Mobile gives you the option to pay for it if you want to. And do you know what they found? They found that people don't want to pay for it.
  9. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,350   +2,002

    Unlimited Data!!!!!! .... (small print says only available over can and string)
  10. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 864   +877

    It is really interesting to watch t mobile become as bad as verizon and AT&T as soon as they started making some money. Truly incredible to watch a company slide this quickly. Remember when they made fun of big red and big blue over how complicated their plans were?

    so charging more for the same thing, while shafting over users who dont need unlimited data or those who dont want binge-on (by now making them pay even more to get rid of it, instead of having an on off switch), or those who want to use tethering data, is now a good thing?

    Comcast called, they want their PR department back.
  11. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,310   +651

    Shoot, the 5gb, unlimited talk/text plan with straight talk is enough for me.
    I've never gone over the limit in 4 years. At the end of the day, I rarely pick up
    the phone for anything. It's a tool, 9-5
  12. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,331   +1,434

    That's an interesting assessment of the situation, care to elaborate?
  13. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,890   +1,224

    This will make up all your extra cash spent on your T-mobile bill.

    You. Can. Cancel. Your. Broadband.

    Or switch if you don't like it....Personally - I'll check on the speeds and if they're good, I'd seriously consider dropping Time Warner.
  14. CortyDK

    CortyDK TS Addict Posts: 102   +53

    Here in Denmark nearly all carriers use data plans. Some cut you off when you reach your limit, others throttle your bandwith to 256 kbit.

    I use WiFi wherever I can, and as a result my mobile subscription is only 2hours talk, 2 Gb data, free sms/mms and free talk within the carriers own subscriber base. And I only shell out the equivalent of $10 per month. Can' t complain.
    misor likes this.
  15. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 2,108   +1,286

    Verizon doesn't even offer unlimited so I don't get how T-Mobile could possibly be charging more for something a competitor doesn't even offer. The tethering restrictions are an obvious requirement. If they didn't have those people could just stream everything over the mobile network. It's one thing to have unlimited data on your phone and another to use your phone as a hotspot for all your other devices. There's a limit to mobile network capacity and certain things should be done over your lan line.
    soonerproud likes this.
  16. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,730   +3,703

    AT&T just announced they are starting to throttle at 128kbit with no overages. Up till now it was the consumers responsibility to turn off data or be charged $15 for every 1GB over their plan limit. I gotta say I like the sound of being throttled, over being charged extra each month.

    T-Mobile moving to a single plan and not allowing anyone to pay for extra bandwidth, without being throttled is ridiculous. Especially when the same contract forces low bandwidth users to pay for bandwidth they will never use. All because everyone else uses more.

    People should be able to name the amount of data they want to use each month, that is if they are willing to pay for it. Having a contract where everyone is charged and throttled at the same bandwidth level is highly anti-consumer.

    Question: What does "$15 per bucket" mean?
  17. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 452   +181

    As someone who doesn't live in the US, can anyone explain to me what a line is, when they say "$70 per month for the first line, $50 for the second line and $20 per additional line after that for up to eight lines total"?
    The prices that US people pay for their cellular/mobile subscriptions always seem extortionate to me. The most common mobile plans in western Europe (the only experience I have) would be around 10 to 20 euro and would offer varying amounts of talk/text/data, including 4G.
  18. MikeJBradley

    MikeJBradley TS Rookie

    Wow! What a great deal! TMobile is definitely not losing money on this. Here in L.A., I currently get 14G/month 4G LTE hotspot feature plus Binge On (as they said, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and most major online streaming) unlimited. Last month I used about 38G total, about 15G hotspot and 23G streaming/cell phone (I live in an RV and don't have access to either Time Warner/Comcast or Satellite TV). I pay $95/mo. for this under my current TMobile account. So don't think this new plan is much improved over the current offers........
  19. MikeJBradley

    MikeJBradley TS Rookie

    Capaill likes this.
  20. kanehi

    kanehi TS Rookie Posts: 42   +6

    I already have unlimited data and would hate to lose the HD streams. I also have tethering feature so throttling the hotspot to a lower speed would be detrimental when accessing the internet. I will stay with my present plan.
    soonerproud likes this.
  21. fastcomputer

    fastcomputer TS Rookie

    A primary difference between US primary carrier data plans and Europe is that in Europe, phones are purchased outright and separately from the plan, and in the US, the cost of phones is amortized and baked into the plan cost. While there are other differences in plan expense to the carrier, like a higher level of low density rural network coverage expense, (and, more recently, the cost of paying contract termination penalties from other carriers) the phone cost is a primary comparative difference. (This is not the case with all pay-as-you-go U.S. providers, that either have no phone expense built in, or have the cost of only low cost phones built in.) U.S. cell phone consumers are, for the most part, not used to paying the actual price of phones, and are used to having the provided for "free" with their phone contract (which means built into their monthly charges), or heavily subsidized. Thus, the higher cost of U.S. primary carrier plans.
    Capaill likes this.
  22. soonerproud

    soonerproud TS Rookie

    1. Existing customers can keep their old plans. No current customer is being forced to switch to a costlier plan.

    2. Does Verizon or AT&T offer a comparative unlimited plan for a better value and with better features. The answer is no, they don't. AT&T only offers unlimited to DirecTV subscribers. Verizon doesn't offer unlimited at all. For $70 at Verizon, you get 4 GB of data and no unlimited video or of anything else for that matter. AT&T offers 3GB for $60, and 6GB for $80. No unlimited video of any quality, no unlimited data of any kind. Sprint offers a similar plan to T-mobile"s, but it's network sucks. So how is that not a good deal for customers?

    3. T-mobile will still have cheaper prepaid plans and they own metro pcs, still giving customers other choices.

    4. How many people actually use tethering? Most people have home internet service. This issue is being over blown.

    5. $25 more for unlimited video of any quality is still better than any plan AT&T and Verizon has. Sprint gives no option for higher quality video on it's new plan that's similar to T-Mobile's. Oh, and Sprint's network sucks.

    Is this new plan a better deal than my current plan? No, it's not. Is it better than anything offered by the competition? I answered that those questions up above. I swear some people just like bitching.
    Panda218 and yRaz like this.
  23. Spike666

    Spike666 TS Rookie

    This isn't true anymore for most phone users. The carriers (T-Mobile was the first) have been switching to outright purchase. The only thing they are doing is using a no-interest payment plan, and that can't be worth the difference between the US and Europe.
  24. RBBrittain

    RBBrittain TS Rookie

    Would someone please explain how this "completely undermines" Binge On? The new plan offers "unlimited standard definition video streaming". Binge On "provides unlimited music and video streaming (480p quality) when using select content providers"; 480p is usually considered SD nowadays (NTSC is 480i). Unless some people were getting HD streaming via Binge On, the only thing I see "undermined" is the list of content providers.
  25. Brach Speicher

    Brach Speicher TS Rookie

    "And let’s be honest with ourselves – streaming music and video are the main culprits contributing to data overages these days. So really, if these things were already free, what’s the attraction here?"

    How about no longer using Zero Rating, a move that potentially violates Net Neutrality?

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