T-Mobile, the 4th largest cell phone/data carrier in the U.S., is trying to shake things up a bit by rolling out multiple offers — that do not charge for data usage. When cell phones first came out in the 90’s, it was talk-time that was restricted by cost. Each plan had “so many minutes” of talk-time in the plan. But thanks to the wonder of competition, carriers built out their networks and beat each other down with better and better talk-time offers until talk time became unlimited on most plans. Today it is almost assumed that a plan of any value will have unlimited talk-time.
Next to fall was texting. 200 text messages went for $5 and every text over that was 5¢. Again, because of competition, texting is now unlimited with most plans, and Apple's Messages app bypasses the carriers texting solutions entirely (iOS device to iOS device).
But we still have a cost governor on data. While data plans are much, much larger, going over the monthly data amount allowed in a plan is still painful to the wallet! The cost per MB or GB thereafter can be quite costly. For those who have legacy AT&T unlimited data plans there is still a penalty of data being slowed to a crawl if you exceed some magical number set by AT&T. You don’t get charged extra, but it takes forever to download anything.
However, T-Mobile is setting out to do what happened to talk-time and texting with data. T-Mobile’s website has two specific offers:
- Music streaming no longer counts against your data plan. In other words: Music Streaming is “free”.
- Add a tablet to your voice plan and get free data.
This follows the strategy put forth by CEO John Legere when he announced the T-Mobile’s free data test drive with an iPhone 5S. In his press release Legere mentioned he thinks T-Mobile has a clear advantage over other U.S. carriers concerning data capacity. Therefore to exploit that advantage and build market share, T-Mobile will roll out programs where T-Mobile becomes a relevant, if not an obvious choice.
Competition is a great thing for the consumer and in this case it looks as though T-Mobile is leading the way to make data plans cheaper and possibly unlimited, without governing user speeds.
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