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T-Mobile Ends Contracts and Subsidies 404

Posted by Soulskill
from the reducing-complexity dept.
AlphaWolf_HK writes "In what I see as a refreshing change, T-Mobile, the fourth largest carrier in the U.S., has made sweeping changes to its service, ending both phone subsidies and service contracts. Its CEO said, 'Here's the deal: If we suck this month, go somewhere else. If we're good, stay with us.' As part of that change, the new base plan will include unlimited access, including voice, text, and data. Data will be restricted to edge speeds after 500MB with no overage costs, but can be upgraded to 2.5GB for $10, or unlimited for $20. Portable Wi-Fi hotspot usage is also unrestricted for no additional cost. In addition, LTE services just went live in eight markets. As is already standard practice with T-Mobile, you are free to bring your own device. To keep customers from having to front the full cost of the phone with unsubsidized plans, they'll let people pay off phones in installments. They're also getting the iPhone 5 next month for $650."
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T-Mobile Ends Contracts and Subsidies

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  • by linuxguy (98493) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @05:45PM (#43285793) Homepage

    It is supposed to be 500MB. You don't usually "upgrade" from 500GB to 2.5GB of data for $10 a month.

  • They get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SgtKeeling (717065) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @05:45PM (#43285795) Journal
    It sounds like T-Mobile is going to be offering reasonable, attractive cell phone plans. Wow. I'm genuinely surprised that such a large carrier is moving in this direction. Good on them.
    • Re:They get it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @05:54PM (#43285873)
      Sounds like a company that is going to pick up a lot of customers very quickly.
      Up here in Vancouver Canada there are really only two carriers. Rogers/Fido or Bell/Telus. Wind is here also, but they seem like they are flailing.
      Maybe there will be something useable by October when my contract with Bell ends.
      Useable = Unlimited TXT, a whack of data, call display, and maybe 200 minutes a month. For less than $90 a month.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I doubt it will be quick. Many are still locked into contracts with the others. To get out would cost a bit of cash so they cant be expected to jump on day one ( like your self ).

        Another problem is coverage area, around here, they have the least coverage.

      • Re:They get it (Score:4, Informative)

        by compro01 (777531) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:17PM (#43286123)

        Bell and Telus aren't the same. Telus is what used to be Alberta Government Telephones and BC Tel. The former was privatized in 1991 and merged with the latter in 1998. It's an excellent example of why privatizing crowns is a bad idea.

        Bell's other brand is Virgin and Telus has the brand Koodoo.

        • Re:They get it (Score:4, Informative)

          by danbob999 (2490674) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:22PM (#43286171)

          Bell and Telus share spectrum/towers for their HSPA network however. And often their plans are the same. They have some sort of unholy alliance where the customer is loosing. Of course they wouldn't be allowed to merge so it's as far as they can go.

          • Re:They get it (Score:4, Informative)

            by isopropanol (1936936) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @07:14PM (#43286649) Journal

            All of the carriers share the towers, but the tower owner (usually Telus) gets the top spot. Bell usually bids highest and gets the second spot, Rogers next and Mobilicity and Wind are usually lowest. Mobilicity and wind also have microcells in some dense areas in Vancouver too which is why they have better coverage in places like Metrotown but sketchy coverage away from dense areas.

            Last time I checked, Telus, Bell, and Rogers had nearly identical plans and you had to go to the rebrands (Fido, Koodo, Virgin) or small carriers (Mobilicity, Wind) to get any differentiation, Sadly Mobilicity and Wind have roaming-only coverage on Vancouver Island, so they are ruled out in my case.

            Also of interest in some cities in the province.... If you are a shaw internet customer you can connect your phone to the "Shaw Open" wifi access points and once you register the device (you need your shaw email address and password), it will be remembered so you can save on your data plan and get wireless-n speed. You can register up to 5 devices per account. I have "AutoSync" on my phone which toggles my sync when connecting and disconnecting wifi so emails come in pretty steadily as I drive past the access points.

      • Koodo. They are a brand of telus so they use the telus antennas at the tops of the telus-owned towers (almost all the towers in BC), so they have great coverage. $45 gets you 200 min (unlimited incoming), 500MB, unlimited text. $60 gets you unlimited/unlimited/unlimited. No long-distance charges if both ends of the call are in Canada.

        Also the people at their mall kiosks don't look at you like you're crazy if you ask for just a sim card. I have a Nexus 4 which serves me well on their $30 plan but I a

        • Also, I usually find dealing with Telus about anything to be an absolute nightmare but koodo's customer service seems to be pretty decent... but then again I have only ever delt with them for registration changes - most of the changes you'd want to do to your account can be done online with minimal frustration.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Sounds like a company that is going to pick up a lot of customers very quickly.

        Not so sure... Imagine if Telus followed a similar pattern -

        Customer: How much for a 32 gig iPhone?
        Telus: $800
        Customer: EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS??!! It's only $150 at Rogers!
        Telus: Yes, but that price is subsidized.
        Customer: What does "subsidized" mean?
        Telus: Sigh.
        Customer: Bye, I'm heading to Rogers.

        • Re:They get it (Score:5, Informative)

          by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @07:07PM (#43286593)

          Customer: How much for a 32 gig iPhone?
          Telus: $800
          Customer: EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS??!! It's only $150 at Rogers!
          Telus: Yes, but that price is subsidized.
          Customer: What does "subsidized" mean?

          Although, with the new T-Mobile pricing, you pay a down payment upfront (which may be zero, depending on the phone), then monthly payment on the phone - listed separately. If you want to cancel service, you just have to pay off the phone. The difference is that people can directly see what they're paying for.

          • Re:They get it (Score:4, Informative)

            by Phrogman (80473) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @07:36PM (#43286785) Homepage

            The cellphone companies rely on their customers being stupid enough to opt for a subsidized phone though, and so far most people are more than happy to be stupid enough to do so. That way we can pay far more in the end for the same phone than we would if we bought it up front.
            I sincerely hope we get a reasonable company up here in Canada but until then we are stuck with the established oligarchy and their ridiculous/criminal pricing schemes.

            • Re:They get it (Score:4, Informative)

              by Ginger Unicorn (952287) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @08:54AM (#43290563)
              When I got my Galaxy S2 on 2 year contract, I worked out how much it would cost to buy the phone as cheaply as possible from somewhere outright, then pay for two years of service, or just go on a contract that included the phone for two years. The total cost was less to get the phone on contract.
            • by JLennox (942693)

              The cell companies aren't discounting hardware because they love you.

              They're over charging non contract people because they want you on that contract. There are no new cell phone customers. A market where people can move freely from carrier to carrier at a whim is one where they lose.

        • They do explain the subsidies and the payoff really well in store (My phone broke monday, had to get a replacement)

          Some phones have that $150 cost up front, then a set month to month fee that will be line itemed on your bill, others have no up front cost and just a month to month fee on the bill.

          This is an incredibly good thing. After the terms of the phone payoff are complete, you own the phone, and you get a lower monthly bill, my bill dropped $30 swapping to this setup from their old, and I went from 5 G

      • Re:They get it (Score:5, Informative)

        by dragonhunter21 (1815102) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @07:16PM (#43286661) Journal

        Down here in the states, at least in Kansas, Sprint. $80USD gets you unlimited texting, unlimited data, and 700 min/month, with unlimited calling nights, weekends, and to any cell phone on any American carrier.

        Beats the hell out of Verizon, anyway.

    • They are forced to (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:00PM (#43285935)

      They are the weakest of the Big 4 and are going all in. I hope it works, if only to keep AT&T / Verizon honest.

      • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:02PM (#43285963)

        Competition, the finest part of capitalism.

        • by jfern (115937) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:35PM (#43286287)

          Of course having competition requires good regulations. There would be a lot less competition here if the Justice department hadn't successfully blocked AT&T's purchase of T-Mobile.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by AlphaWolf_HK (692722)

            I wouldn't say so. Local regulations and permit procedures are what stop a lot of broadband deployments. Google chose KC for their fiber largely because of the lack of regulation. FIOS deployment has already halted largely due to regulations.

            The regulatory cost puts a heavy thumb on the side of the scale that discourages investment. Indeed, as fellow Forbes contributor Elise Ackerman pointed out last week, Google has explicitly said that part of what made Kansas City attractive was the lack of excessive infrastructure regulation, and the willingness and ability of the city to waive or otherwise expedite the requirements that were on the books.(Despite the city’s promises to bend over backwards for the project, she notes, there have still been expensive regulatory delays that promoted no public values.)

            http://larrydownes.com/what-google-fiber-gig-u-and-us-ignite-teach-us-about-the-painful-cost-of-legacy-regulation/ [larrydownes.com]

            Also, capitalism did to microsoft what the government could not: It broke internet explorer's stranglehold on the web, and microsoft's monopoly on the desk

    • Re:They get it (Score:5, Informative)

      by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:03PM (#43285971) Homepage Journal
      If only their coverage wasn't easily the worst of the big 4 a move to T-Mo would be easy. If you live in the city then this is a great plan and you should take it. If you ever intend to leave the city then it's not so great. I had T-Mo for years before I finally had to give up and switch to Verizon, because the coverage was a constant problem for me.

      Bonus though: at least when I had it T-Mo worked in the city while AT&T (my wife's provider) was crapping themselves due to excessive volume. I could call and even get data through when her phone was reduced to a glorified iPod Touch due to total and complete network overload.
      • Re:They get it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anubis IV (1279820) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:34PM (#43286275)

        Agreed. I not-so-fondly recall having to exit my apartment out the back door whenever a call came in (assuming it came in at all), since I couldn't get reliable reception in front of or inside the apartment. And that came after the apartment where I didn't get reception at all and would only find out I had received calls whenever I exited my apartment and had a flood of voicemails suddenly arrive. I dealt with that for three years in the end, and it was a miserable experience the entire time. Strange as it is for me to say it, switching to AT&T was a massive upgrade, and if the experiences I hear recounted to me by others in town who are still with T-Mobile are any indication, AT&T continues to be the better choice for anyone who is actually interested in making calls with their phone.

        And yet, despite that, I'd switch back to T-Mobile in a heartbeat if I thought their coverage had improved, just because I'm so fed up with the usurious pricing schemes that the majority of carriers are engaging in. Even though I have no plans to switch at this time, I laud their decision to make this change to their pricing. If they can extend their coverage or force their competitors to adopt similar plans, I'll be a very happy guy, one way or the other.

        • Re:They get it (Score:4, Interesting)

          by eudaemon (320983) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:39PM (#43286321)
          Or if they just gave away local cell extenders for free instead of wanting to charge for them. I'd stick it in my attic just so my neighbors could benefit as well. But not if I have to pay to fix T-Mobile's coverage.
        • by dave562 (969951)

          Did you ever contact them about the call problems? Most carriers take those dead zone reports seriously. It usually takes them 3-6 months to actually get field engineering around to resolving it though.

          I have only reported dead zones to Verizon, so YMMV.

          • I don't recall having reported any of them, no, and that is a good suggestion. Nonetheless, it's a bit disappointing that they're still having these issues five and six years later in my town.

    • by yurtinus (1590157)
      Worries me that they don't have their old Monthly 4G plans listed... I hopped on one of those, giving up the unlimited minutes for a great deal more data and a $30/mo total cell phone bill. Unlimited talk time? Who talks to each other these days anyway!?
    • Re:They get it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mike449 (238450) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:34PM (#43286279)

      The price is still fairly steep. $50/month for unlimited talk + 500MB of data.
      Data only is $20 for 500MB, $30 for 2GB, and it quickly goes up.
      The fact that these plans are reasonable and attractive tells a lot about the "competition" landscape in the US.

    • Thank walmart for this. Their phone plans are currently killing the market with little to no advertising. The big problem they, and now T-mobile will have is their phones will look really expensive at first. But thanks to Android I think we'll be seeing some much more reasonably priced smartphones in the near future. There's no reason we can't have a decent sub $40 phone with no contract that can do everything 90% of the market needs. In 10years I think people will laugh at you if you pull out a $600 phone.

  • awesome! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @05:46PM (#43285801)
    The best plans, the best prices, the best phones, and the hottest spokesgirl.
  • by tatman (1076111) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @05:50PM (#43285829) Homepage
    I can only hope the big 2 will follow along.
    • by oGMo (379)

      Sadly while T-Mobile has always had really good pricing in relation to AT&T and Verizon, they've always had really crappy coverage (though their service in covered areas always seemed decent). If you are someone who spends most of your time in a 4G-covered area, great. Otherwise, it's pretty much Verizon or bust (AT&T being pretty much the worst of both). Somehow T-Mobile always seems to get the best devices, though. I guess that and pricing set them apart.

      If they can get their coverage up to ri

      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        T-Mobile's plans are great, but they have two major (and related) deficiencies.

        1) Their primary 3G band is 1700 MHz. Only a small number of devices support this. Their secondary band is 1900 MHz - There are devices out there that don't support this either. They have zero service in UMTS850, while AT&T has pretty solid service there. (I have a Euro LTE Xperia Z unit - it has UMTS850 support but no 1900, and it gets solid coverage where I live.)
        2) Their coverage is, in general, crap. Back in 2008-2

        • I had similar reservations about t-mobile when I switched to them from Sprint last month, namely due to my dad having the same issues. However I have other relatives who are with them who told me that it's pretty good service now. So I switched, and it works pretty damn good.

          Also, I haven't done my research on their 3G bands, but I do know that on XDA they recently talked about how they've activated the more standardized bands in most markets. It seems to hold true, because I can get full 3G speeds on my ip

          • by yurtinus (1590157)
            Looks like they've been steadily expanding their 3G service (HSPA+ I think) into the 1900MHz band, likely driven by users bringing iPhones over. When I first got my phone (an Xperia Sola with no 1700MHz radio), I was always on EDGE for data. Starting perhaps in November, I was seeing 3g pop up in one spot around town. Now it looks like about 80% of my town is covered. Hopefully someday soon the 1900MHz band at my house will be upgraded...
        • by Orphis (1356561)

          When I was traveling to the USA with my European phone (iPhone 4S with 3G) last year, I took a prepaid card at T-Mobile and it worked fine for me. The vendor told me the 3G *could* work but since they were deploying the network (at the same time they deploy LTE), I shouldn't count on it (I was in SF then).
          3G worked when I exited the shop and put the new SIM card for about 20 minutes, then it fell back to Edge for 99% of my 6 weeks trip.

          I traveled on the east and west coast and only had 3G another time, at t

  • by linuxguy (98493) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @05:51PM (#43285839) Homepage

    This is a bold step for T-Mobile and I hope that they succeed. However I am somewhat concerned as I have already seen too many people complain that they'd have to foot the bill for the full cost of the phone. The math would may prove to be difficult for people who are not good at it.

    • by jazman_777 (44742)
      They're counting on the intelligence of the American people. Whoops! As Mencken quipped, no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. So T-Mobile is paddling upstream, spitting into the wind, and kicking against the goads.
    • by tepples (727027) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .selppet.> on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:00PM (#43285943) Homepage Journal

      However I am somewhat concerned as I have already seen too many people complain that they'd have to foot the bill for the full cost of the phone. The math would may prove to be difficult for people who are not good at it.

      They could phrase it like this:

      Pay Later: $199 down + $15/month for 24 months
      Pay Now: $549

      The down payment on the Pay Later choice would reasonably match the price with contract on other carriers.

      • by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:17PM (#43286119)

        I think the down payment option is a good deal. However not everybody agrees, and I think the reason why is kind of stupid.

        Techcrunch basically attacks t-mobile over this one because if you want to change carriers, you're still stuck with a $600 (or whatever) phone, as opposed to a $350 early termination fee.

        http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/26/t-mobiles-uncarrier-pricing-isnt-so-different-from-the-contract-devil-you-already-know/ [techcrunch.com]

        I'm wondering if they have a bone to pick with t-mobile, because a few hours ago slashdot posted an article from them about how t-mobile UK are scamming customers with premium SMS.

        The only possible way I could see the light in this statement would be if you could bring that phone to any of the other major carriers. Sadly, as far as major carriers, your only other option is AT&T. Though you can get some pretty good deals with the MVNO's, their coverage isn't as good. Personally I'd prefer to just own the phone than be in a contract.

        • Sure they have a bone to pick. If the service-only model, which is how it's done in the rest of the world btw, wins out in the US people will get used to buy a phone and keep it for years to come. Less people buying the newest gadget every 2 years (with costs buried in a contract for service) means less advertising. Plus the carrier competition will go away too, carriers will start advertising service differences in main stream media instead of "only at XYZ the jphone 6gsl430" in the tech media.
          • carriers will start advertising service differences in main stream media

            You mean like Verizon's "there's a map for that" ads, back when AT&T was still EDGE-only in a lot of markets, followed by AT&T's Christo-inspired ads?

        • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @07:24PM (#43286701)

          I think the down payment option is a good deal. However not everybody agrees, and I think the reason why is kind of stupid.

          Techcrunch basically attacks t-mobile over this one because if you want to change carriers, you're still stuck with a $600 (or whatever) phone, as opposed to a $350 early termination fee.

          http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/26/t-mobiles-uncarrier-pricing-isnt-so-different-from-the-contract-devil-you-already-know/ [techcrunch.com]

          I'm wondering if they have a bone to pick with t-mobile, because a few hours ago slashdot posted an article from them about how t-mobile UK are scamming customers with premium SMS.

          The only possible way I could see the light in this statement would be if you could bring that phone to any of the other major carriers. Sadly, as far as major carriers, your only other option is AT&T. Though you can get some pretty good deals with the MVNO's, their coverage isn't as good. Personally I'd prefer to just own the phone than be in a contract.

          Galaxy SIII on Verizon $199 + $350 ETF reduced by $10/month
          Galaxy SIII on T-Mobile: $549 or $69 + $20/month for 24 months = $549

          If you break your Verizon contract in the first month, your phone cost is $199 + $350 for the phone, or $549
          If you break you T-Mobile contract in the first month, your phone cost is $69 + 20*24 = $549

          If you break your Verizon contract after 6 months, you owe $350 - ($10*6) = $290 to break your contract
          If you break your T-mobile contract after 6 months, you owe 18 * $20 = $360 to break your contract

          If you break your Verizon contract after 12 months, you owe $350 - ($10*12) = $230 to break your contract
          If you break your T-mobile contract after 12 months, you own 12 * $12 = $240 to break your contract

          However, in the last 2 cases, you saved $130 on the price of the phone so you still break even or come out ahead.

          And, at the end of the payback term, if you stay with T-Mobile, you save $20/month since the phone's paid off, but with VErizon you keep paying the same amount.

          • by jxander (2605655)

            The biggest difference at this point is precedent and legality.

            Other networks are doing everything they can to make it illegal for you to break contract and take your phone with you. T-Mobile's stance, with this latest announcement, seems to be a much more reasonable "It's your phone, do what you want," (with the obvious CDMA/GSM limitations.)

      • by slinches (1540051) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:24PM (#43286187)

        Just checked the plan prices. I compared "unlimited" everything since that's the closest match between features.

        AT&T - unlimited voice $70 + 3GB data $30 + unlimited messaging $20 = $120 per month

        T-Mobile - Unlimited voice, high speed data and messaging $70 + $20 Phone installment plan = $90 per month

        Assuming the down payment on the phone is similar, the T-Mobile plan is ~$700 ($30*24) less over the 2 year AT&T contract. After the phone is paid in full the installment plan ends and saves $50/month over AT&T.

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Keep in mind you compared an unlimited data plan to a 3GB data plan. The 2GB data plan for T-Mobile is only $10/month.

          Oh, I've found that T-Mobile has much better family plans as well. For $120/month you can have four phones with unlimited calling and 2GB data on two of them. For ATT that would be around $200/month. Oh, and it still is apples and oranges as T-Mo is now throwing in 500MB on all lines and NO overage fees (it just drops to 2G). ATT would charge $240/mo to bump the other two lines up to on

    • by godrik (1287354)

      I am going with t-mobile right now, and I am obviously not going to change to something else. Go t-mobile!! Currently my phone has been "paid off" but my wife's did not (becasue she changed it later). So we are still paying the subsidized price for both phones.

      That would also push unlocking.

    • Banks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by robmv (855035) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:46PM (#43286361)

      Is not it the job of banks to lend money? Use your credit card to finance your purchase. If you have no financial credit and you don't have a credit card, why are you buying expensive gadgets?, buy a simple phone because obviously you should not be wasting money on them

  • Nice to see a carrier doing the right thing. I bought a iPhone 5 unlocked, from Apple (yeah, I know) so that I could use it on T-mobile. I have never had any complaints about T-mobiles service, and I have been with them for a freaking long time.

  • ...the $600 price tags on phones. As a T-Mobile customer, I hope this isn't a sign of them about to go out of business.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      For people who can't afford 600, they have installment plans.

    • by jandrese (485)
      I'd much rather pay for the phone up front than give the phone company a loan on their terms. This is especially true since the current model is ridiculous. You buy a phone and it is "subsidized" over 2 years. Fine, except that at the end of the 2 years your plan's price doesn't go down to represent the fact that you've paid off the phone. In fact you're stuck paying the subsidy for absolutely no service at all! It's outrageous and they've been getting away with it for decades now. The worst part is t
      • by rickb928 (945187)

        Bingo! that's the problem.

        With 'traditional' plans, you pay just as much after your contract expires and presumably the phone is paid off. In fact, most carriers happily tack on price increases to further offend you. If you just go 1 more year with your tired old phone, you saved $240 or more and have a little bundle to put down on the new one.

        Or, in the current system, go to any of the top 3 and plop down that down payment every two years like clockwork.

        This will also, BTW, change the GSM aftermarket, a

    • by TopSpin (753)

      ...the $600 price tags on phones

      I keep reading [slate.com] about [newser.com] $600 smart phones in stories on this T-Mobile no-contract scheme. You can have an amazing unlocked no-contract quad-core Nexus 4 for $299-349 here [google.com]. It's HSPA+ which is all you'll get with T-Mobile in most markets anyhow.

      If the best argument against this deal is that unlocked iPhones cost too much then sign me up. Data coverage is the real problem with T-Mobile... but perhaps they're really solving that now.

      • by eudaemon (320983)
        The Nexus 4 does also speak LTE on Band 4, which supposedly T-Mobile supports. You have to downgrade the flash radio on the Nexus 4 because the latest update disabled LTE. Still, just another reason to buy a Nexus 4, besides the smoking price and unlocked/un-carrier-crufted Android OS. The Galaxy IV and HTC One are arguably better if much more expensive phones, but for $299 you're in the territory of what a carrier might charge you to purchase a new device on contract anyway, and you get an unlocked phon
  • Just wait.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by synthesizerpatel (1210598) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:01PM (#43285953)

    If they really were thinking about customers, the contract would be a no-penalty cancel-anytime-you-want contract that would lock you in for a specific price for a non-trivial amount of time.

    I'm skeptical and will stick with AT&T out of laziness for a while. Prove me wrong T-Mobile and I'll switch. But even though cellular has been one-sided customer-screwing contracts since the inception of the service - contracts can actually protect _both_ parties if you do them right. No contract == No guarantee.

    • You mean like what they just announced? You can either buy the phone up front or finance it over a two year period. You're not locked into a contract for long term service with them but you can bet your ass there's a contract involved. You *do* have to pay for your merchandise whether you're getting your service with them or another carrier.

      • I think what the OP was saying is that with a contract, you could be guaranteed a specific monthly price for the duration of the contract. With the program that T-Mobile just announced, you could buy a phone outright that only works on their network and then they could stick you with a huge price hike the following month.
        • The phone is unlocked from day one, so you can switch any time. But yeah, they could certainly raise their rates from one month to another. Probably not the smartest business decision to raise rates like that but it is possible.

    • Re:Just wait.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:39PM (#43286317)

      Not sure what you're getting at here. The problem is that there isn't a contract to begin with? That *is* what t-mobile is doing here; there is no contract. I'd see not having a contract as an advantage. Bring your existing AT&T phone over and try it out. Service doesn't work for you? Go ahead and return to AT&T at any time you'd like.

      As I experienced with sprint, a contract doesn't guarantee quality of service. Like the t-mobile CEO said in his press conference: When you're in a contract, the carrier only has to be nice to you once every 23 months.

  • by It doesn't come easy (695416) * on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:09PM (#43286037) Journal
    Let's check out the fine print (is unlimited data really unlimited? etc., etc.) but if T-Mobile is honestly offering unlimited calls, data, tethering, and text without a contract then NOW you can vote with your dollars and switch. If you miss this opportunity to support them on this and send a real message to the other carriers, then you have no right to complain about the state of cell phone service in the US.
    • by PRMan (959735)
      Sprint has had unlimited everything for a long time at a pretty good price too. You could have sent a message for years now. Did you?
      • It's not just the unlimited stuff that he's talking about. He's also talking about the lack of contract and the fact that the subsidy for the phone is actually an installment plan, rather than an excuse to increase the built-in cost of the plan while never reducing it, even after the phone has been more than paid for. Sprint still engages in that practice and still locks you in to contracts.

    • I wholly agree, and while they're definitely ahead in the ways that you've specified, they're still far behind in the most important one: coverage.

      It doesn't matter if you're offering a super car with infinite fuel at the price of a family car if there are no roads to drive it on. As someone who suffered through three years of having the majority of calls either drop or simply not come through at all as one of their customers, and who continues to hear stories that mirror my own experiences from people that

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:10PM (#43286041)

    I hope the FTC takes note of this. Good things are happening because companies have to innovate to compete instead of take refuge in mega-mergers.

  • Great. Now all they need to do is expand coverage - as much as I want to switch from Verizon to T-Mobile, it won't do me much good if half the time I can't get a signal.

    Question for anyone with T-Mobile currently: I've been talking with my wife about switching to the prepaid, 100 minutes/month, unlimited text/data [t-mobile.com] plan, but a big hangup is that her hometown is in the "Service Partner" coverage area on the T-Mobile coverage map. What data speeds/caps do the prepaid plans in service partner areas, if they are

  • by Burning1 (204959) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:12PM (#43286077) Homepage

    I am currently a T-mobile customer, and had a chance to look over the plans. Very excited by this new approach, and hope other providers follow suit.

    It's important to note however that tethering (Smartphone Mobile HotSpot, or SMH) is not unlimited, even with the unlimited data plans. The unlimited data plan included 500MB of tethered data, and you can buy more (apparently for $10 per 2GB, but not confirmed.) If you're primarily interested in tethered data, it might make sense to buy the 2.5GB plan, which costs $10 less, and includes 2.5GB of tethered data.

    Unfortunately, it looks like T-mobile may be eliminating some of it's other low cost plans with this move. My current plan is $30/mo for more 1500 talk/text minutes, and 30MB of data. 30MB is enough to check a map when I need it, and I can use wifi for my typical data use.

    If you have concerns about T-Mobile's coverage, you can supplement it by purchasing an inexpensive daily use phone from Verizon. Pay $2/day when you're traveling outside a T-Mobile coverage zone.

  • FINALLY, it would appear the free market is starting to work its magic. It's almost inevitable that phone calls and mobile internet access will be free or almost next to free some day. That day appears a little sooner thanks to this news.

    However, I still think it should be a government service, since like roads, it's basic infrastructure. Maybe the government and Google (for the expertise) can get together at some point to make that work.
  • No contracts may open the door for me to see what offerings they have. I'm never going to sign a 2 year contract for anything ever again. Burned by those a couple times, that's it. They're simply a legal document allowing a company to take money from me for service I haven't used.

  • I used to go through 500MB easily in one surfing session before NoScript. Webmasters using modern tools think nothing of sending you whatever you will accept, such as a ten megabyte video streaming file to open up and play on the side as an ad for cars or some movie trailer...

    Once people begin being charged for this, they are apt to adopt technologies which block ads, and webmasters-paid by the ad transmitted-will do all in their power to send anything only after they have confirmed the ad streams are tr
  • From the t-mobile web page [t-mobile.com], below the big banner saying "No annual contract":

    General Terms: At participating locations. Domestic only. Credit approval, $35/line activation fee, and two-year contract with up to $200/line early cancellation fee required; deposit may apply. If you switch plans you may be bound by existing or extended term (including early cancellation provisions) and/or charged an up to $200 fee. You may be unable to switch to some plans.

    Maybe it's just a glitch but I wouldn't bank on it.

    For w

  • by paulmac84 (682014) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:40PM (#43286329) Homepage

    ..... are shockingly expensive.

    It amazes me that in the US you're expected to pay extra for voicemail, SMS packages, tethering etc. These are the basic services that make even a dumb phone usable. Without them, you may as well be sending smoke signals.

    I'm currently with 3 Ireland. I paid €100 for my HTC Explorer. I pay €20 per month for unlimited SMS messages, unlimited data, unlimited calls to numbers on the same network, unlimited weekend calls to any number. Every time I top up by €20, I get €10 free credit. I get free tethering to my laptop. The only time my credit is used is when I call numbers during the week that aren't on the 3 network.

    Ireland is a small country with four main networks. Competition is pretty tough, but having a mobile phone is pretty cheap. My 8 year old nieces and nephews have their own phones, and pay for the majority of their credit themselves from pocket money etc.

  • by VP (32928) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @06:42PM (#43286343)
    The carrier who would be best positioned (at least in Europe) to offer a decent data roaming option due to their relationship with the German carrier of the same name, and who partially owns them, only provides the insane price of $15 per MB (yes, per megabyte) for international data roaming. For comparison, Verizon and AT&T provide 100 MB for $20...
  • by Tony Isaac (1301187) on Tuesday March 26, 2013 @09:44PM (#43287563) Homepage

    The base plan T-Mobile is touting is $50 per month for unlimited everything (500 MB data at 4G speed).

    Wal-Mart sells a T-Mobile plan for $30 per month [walmart.com] for unlimited text and data (5 GB data at 4G speed). The catch is that the plan has only 100 minutes of voice. But if you are willing to use Google Voice with Groove IP, you can use your data to talk. I have this setup and love it! Better still, if you're in WiFi range, you can stretch your WiFi even farther.

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