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The Almighty Buck Wireless Networking Businesses Communications Network Networking United States

T-Mobile Eliminates Cheaper Postpaid Plans, Sells 'Unlimited Data' Only (arstechnica.com) 88

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: T-Mobile USA will stop selling its older and cheaper limited-data plans to postpaid customers, shifting entirely to its new "unlimited" data plans that impose bandwidth limits on video and tethering unless customers pay extra. To ease the transition, T-Mobile will offer bill credits of $10 a month to customers when they use less than 2GB per month. T-Mobile began its shift to unlimited data plans in August with the introduction of T-Mobile One, which starts at $70 a month. While there are no data caps, customers have to pay a total of $95 a month to get high-definition video and mobile hotspot speeds of greater than 512kbps. The carrier said in August that the unlimited plan would be "replacing all our rate plans," including its cheaper plans that cost $50 or $65 a month. Nonetheless, T-Mobile kept selling limited postpaid data plans to new customers for a few months, but yesterday CEO John Legere said that as of January 22, T-Mobile One will be the "only postpaid consumer plan we sell." Existing postpaid customers can keep their current plans. For new customers, T-Mobile will presumably keep selling its prepaid plans that cost $40 to $60 a month and come with 3GB to 10GB of data. T-Mobile also said yesterday that it will start including taxes and fees in its advertised rate when customers sign up for new T-Mobile One plans and enroll in automatic payments, essentially giving subscribers a discount. "The average monthly bill for a family of four will drop from $180.48 to $160, according to a company spokesman," The Wall Street Journal reported.
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T-Mobile Eliminates Cheaper Postpaid Plans, Sells 'Unlimited Data' Only

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  • I seem to recall when they brought out the new One plan...it was slightly more expensive than their current offering and the removal of high-speed tethering made it a worse deal.

    Granted...they've got a good network; I just won't pay the full-rate for premium TMobile. Not when I get LTE hotspot for $35 less a month on my existing plan.
    • You poor Yanks bitching at $95 unlimited. Canada for 95 bucks you get a shitty plan and 2gb.
      • by johanw ( 1001493 )

        I pay 17,72 Euros/month for unlimited data and 190 minutes or sms (which I don't use all). The situation in North America on mobile contracts seems really bad. Even with prepaid data I would not pay nearly $100/month.

      • I'm with Koodo. Owned by Telus.

        $48/mo for unlimited Canada-wide calling, unlimited North America SMS/MMS, and 5GB of Canada-wide data.

        I typically only use about 1/10 of the data, but at the price compared to the other offerings around here it is by far the best option.

        Also, the odd time I travel around Canada I don't have to worry about getting gouged for long distance calling.

  • Virgin Mobile in the US is a reseller of T-Mobile and still offer prepaid plans. I don't think they have a postpaid option. After you hit the caps it starts to devolve into a postpaid option (or alternatively the service stops, depends on how you set up the "top up" options)

    I use Ting, which is only offers postpaid plans. They are a reseller of Sprint and T-Mobile, although most people opt for the Sprint network.

    • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
      Virgin mobile is CDMA reseller of Sprint alone. Or so says the SIM card in the Virgin Mobile phone next to me, and their website. T-Mobile is GSM.
    • by b0bby ( 201198 )

      Virgin Mobile in the US is a reseller of T-Mobile and still offer prepaid plans.

      Virgin in the US uses Sprint, (CDMA) not T-Mobile (GSM). Around me Sprint has ok coverage (I used to have Virgin), but T-Mobile is better (had them for a couple of years). I now use Cricket prepaid with an unlocked phone and the coverage (AT&T) is pretty good, maybe just a bit better than T-Mo most places.

    • by darkain ( 749283 )

      You're thinking of MetroPCS

    • Also metropcs.

      I was with Tmobile but changed MetroPCS because it was cheaper a few months ago.

      Had a weird thing where my phone voicemail was stuck in spanish for the first few weeks but finally got that straightened out.

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Friday January 06, 2017 @05:32PM (#53619795)
    until it's not.
    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Friday January 06, 2017 @05:49PM (#53619897)

      until it's not.

      When cell phone providers change their rate plans, you can be sure that the new plans are better for the providers, and worse for their customers. Partially, the providers just want to obfuscate their rates to make them so opaque, that it is very difficult to determine if your plan fits your needs.

      "Existing postpaid customers can keep their current plans."

      That sounds like Obama's misstatement that "you can keep your current health plan.

      • by quetwo ( 1203948 )

        I've been able to keep my old TMO plan from 2007, which included some limited minutes, but unlimited data + tethering. It's $70/month, so pretty much the same as the One plans, with those exceptions. TMO has been really good about grandfathering plans and keeping them as is, unlike (T) and VZ.

        • Same here.
          I have 4 sims with T-Mobile: 1 full feature, 3 text/data no voice.
          The plan I was on those three sims are free to me. I pay 70/mo for the unlimited (no BW or speed caps / 5 gig tether) and the data sims are 200mb each but free and unlimited text.

          Had this plan for years now and they've not touched it, even though I've replaced all 4 sims over the years.

          Very happy with them overall. Had a hiccup with their warranty replacement service where the replacement phone was crap compared to the Nexus 5 it

      • by Karlt1 ( 231423 )

        How is it obsfucated? It's $70 a month including all fees,taxes, no overage charges, etc.

        If you want to buy a phone on an installment plan. You pay (the cost of the phone - the down payment)/the number of months. If you cancel your service before your phone is paid off, you pay the balance of your phone. How much clearer could they be?

      • That sounds like Obama's misstatement that "you can keep your current health plan.

        You could keep your insurance plan. The problem was that health care insurers tend to retire plans every couple years. So eventually you'd have to get a new one.

        Cell phone companies have historically left grandfathered plans alone so long as the customer paid out of pocket for their phones. It was when you wanted to use their free phone upgrades that they made you dump your old plan.

        As example, I kept my AT&T Wireless plan through both the Cingular and AT&T Mobility change-overs. I even kept my

  • Also relevant to like 0.2% of slashdot readers?
    • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Friday January 06, 2017 @05:42PM (#53619857) Homepage Journal

      T-Mobile holds 10% of US market share.

      Slashdot received 47.7% of its visitors from the US.

      If mobile usage of Slashdotters is proportional to national averages, which I assume it is without data to indicate otherwise, then the number is closer to 4.8% than your claimed 0.2%.

      • by Zemran ( 3101 )
        He did say "like" which to an intelligent reader would mean that he is not even giving the impression of using accurate data. You have argued something that was not said and failed to respond to the what he did say which was not worthy of a reply. You are trolling and idiot.
        • Well it's a bit of a straw man anyways because the original post is arguing that only those slashdotters using the service would find the news relevant.

  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Friday January 06, 2017 @05:50PM (#53619907)
    The most frustrating thing about T-Mobile is that you never know how they are going to redefine "unlimited" from quarter to quarter. $70 a month for SD video and... 512k of hotspot? That should not count as high speed. But regulations and lack thereof and so on. 512k is damn near useless as a hotspot. Even when super slow DSL came around in 1997 or so, you might be stuck with 512k up, but you could at least get 1 - 1.5 down. I would rather be capped at a higher speed.

    So what they are really doing is selling a service that at $70 will cause you to go so absolutely bonkers with it's limitations that you will eventually have a meltdown and pay for their real unlimited high speed. Well played T-Mobile. Let's see what new high speed re-arrangement you cook up for the next financial quarter.
    • I perfer "unlimited" plans which at least let you have a decent tether speed for the first few gigs or so.
    • by Karlt1 ( 231423 )

      The most frustrating thing about T-Mobile is that you never know how they are going to redefine "unlimited" from quarter to quarter.

      "Redefined" for who? If when you got your plan they defined unlimited as unlimited high speed data and 14Gb of tethering of high speed tethering data, they aren't redefining it for you. You get to keep your rare plan. I came in on a special years ago. I've been paying $200 a month for five lines of unlimited data, 14Gb of high speed tethering per line and unlimited video tethe

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      512k is plenty to check email, pull down updates in the background, check the weather.... $95 a month for cell service and broadband internet is a pretty good deal if you truly need it.

      • 512k is plenty to check email, pull down updates in the background, check the weather.... $95 a month for cell service and broadband internet is a pretty good deal if you truly need it.

        I realize that "broadband" has a technical definition, but you need to realize that 512kbps doesn't meet the FCC's definition of "broadband internet". T-Mobile is calling it "high speed" when it is clearly low speed.

        It should be illegal to call anything which doesn't meet the FCC definition of "broadband" by the name "high speed". Of course, that should actually be the FCC definition for "high speed", but I don't get everything I want.

  • As the CEO of T-Mobile Germany stated, the "uncarrier" model that T-Mobile USA has been selling for the last couple years is unsustainable. [arstechnica.com] To be fair, they were selling service so low it really was cheaper than it should have been. It was only a matter of time before a rate hike of some sort would happen. They are trying really really hard to spin the rate hike with marketing to make it sounds like a bigger deal than before with the whole "unlimited" wording, but truth is its no different than their previo

    • To be fair, they were selling service so low it really was cheaper than it should have been. It was only a matter of time before a rate hike of some sort would happen.

      It seems as if T-Mobile USA is following the lead of other major US carriers in that they only want to directly sell to power users. Customers who aren't as profitable are being steered to their own discount brand (MetroPCS is owned by T-Mobile; likewise, Boost and Virgin Mobile are owned by Sprint while Cingular is owned by AT&T) or third party MVNO resellers like Page Plus, Straight Talk, Pure Talk, Ting, and the like.

      If you want to continue to use the T-Mobile network but with a cheaper plan, there

  • I'm confused... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lord_mike ( 567148 ) on Friday January 06, 2017 @05:59PM (#53619969)

    "shifting entirely to its new 'unlimited' data plans that impose bandwidth limits on video and tethering unless customers pay extra"

    How in any universe could that be considered an unlimited plan?

    • "Unlimited use of data on your phone, and also tethering at 512Kbps" I can understand. Video, on the other hand, is over 90% of the bandwidth usage on phones.

    • Unlimited data, not unlimited speed

      • Speed x Time = Limit

        Even without artificial limits, there is still a physical limit to the speed and, well, billing periods are fixed as well, so there's the time limit. Again, Speed x Time = Limit.

        At least, that's the argument Verizon customers throw in my face to explain how their 4GB/mo limit on a $90/mo plan (at least, the last time i had the argument) is better than my "unlimited" (on which I use 30+GB/mo regularly) plan for $70.
    • by quetwo ( 1203948 )

      Essentially, if you stream from Netflix, Youtube etc. they will only send 480p or 720i video, instead of full HD. When the providers agree to do this for TMO users, TMO zero-rates the bandwidth for the end user. The same goes for certain audio providers (Pandora, etc.).

      TMO offers users three options in their control panel -- opt out of the zero rating (meaning you get the full HD videos, but the bandwidth goes against your cap), you can pay for the zero rating to cover the full HD (you get full HD video,

    • No no no, not unlimited. 'unlimited'. The quotes are important.
  • This is not good news for customers like me. I don't need a lot of data, and the only time I do use significant data are the rare times when I tether- and I need it FAST at that point. So now that type of consumer will have to pay even more for less! And pay every month for the privilege, even when it is rarely needed (but important when it is needed). Yes, I am grandfathered in right now, but if I were looking at switching to T-Mobile, this would be a huge negative.

    And they are going to punish people w

    • Nobody is being punished for not signing up for autopay.

      People who do sign up for autopay are being rewarded

      • >"Nobody is being punished for not signing up for autopay. People who do sign up for autopay are being rewarded."

        Oh really? Seems like it is the same thing to me. It is the outcome that matters, not the wording. Try this: "We are going to lower rates for everyone except those who do not enroll in autopay". To those who don't want to use autopay, it certainly sounds like a punishment.

    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      If you always pay on time, what's the difference?

      They don't force you to use the automatic payment if it's on. You can still manually pay when you feel like it, and if that's before the last possibly day, you're auto pay won't get through.

  • I'd be curious to know how many people actually want unlimited data. Besides the millennials who are hopelessly addicted to their phone I bet 75% of the population still uses less than 1GB per month in data.
    • I virtually run my life on my phone.
      20 gig/mo easy.
      I'm 40.

      • by nwaack ( 3482871 )
        You use 20GB/month+ in CELL data? Ya know, they have this thing called "wifi" now. You should check it out.
    • well over 75% of the calls i took at a sprint call center (ending 03/16) were from users of more than 1gb/mo. no,i didnt count, but at 1000 interactions per month over the course of a couple years you get a fairly good sense.
    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      I almost cancelled Comcast and went with the $95 plan yesterday.

      I live alone, so there's no need for internet when I'm not around.

      Would save me $35/month (but it would have been $55, Comcast knocked $20 off when I called to cancel).

      I wasn't on a promotional plan, but they still bumped my price up $45% as of January.

    • I'd be curious to know how many people actually want unlimited data. Besides the millennials who are hopelessly addicted to their phone I bet 75% of the population still uses less than 1GB per month in data.

      Actually, when I had downloaded one of those news apps on my new Ellipsis a year ago, I forgot to turn off the cellular data, and result was that since that news app was always running in the background, I ran out of data very quickly before I noticed what was going on. I turned off the cellular data, but for that month, the damage was done.

      But other than that, you are right - I've never come close to even 1GB. Although this is b'cos my car has a GPS of its own, which is a lot more convenient than a pho

  • by Avarist ( 2453728 ) on Friday January 06, 2017 @06:08PM (#53620027)
    ... for a phone plan. I'm currently paying 15€ and it covers all my needs exitensively. I would seriously consider moving to a different country if businesses were allowed to screw me over that big on a regular basis. If one business is allowed to, you know they all do.
    • by b0bby ( 201198 )

      When you're comparing the US to EU phone plans, you need to take into account the different models which they evolved from. When mobiles first came out in the EU, it was always the caller who paid (quite a lot) for a call to a mobile, the person with the mobile paid nothing. This worked in Europe where people were used to paying per call they made. In the US, where people mostly had (even back then) free unlimited local calling, the owner of the mobile phone got a normal area code and bore all the costs of

      • I have the Verizon Small plan of 2GB w/ the previous month's carry-over, giving me an effective 4GB, for $35 a month. My monthly bill for just that plus calls and everything is $115. I pay that plus the monthly installments on my 4 toys
    • At the current exchange rate, 15â is about eighty cents more than what I pay for services that covers all my needs extensively. All U.S. cell phone plans are not equal but the good ones are admittedly less visible.

  • by dwater ( 72834 )

    I pay £15/month for unlimited data plus 3GB of data....And free roaming (though there are then limits) to many countries and territories, including the USA.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I pay £15/month for unlimited data plus 3GB of data ....And free roaming (though there are then limits) to many countries and territories, including the USA.

      Is that like infinity plus 3?

  • I'm on T-mobile. Moved to brazil a year ago. I get 4g and stream audio a LOT (local college radio from back home.) I use the hotspot fairly often too. I have never gotten throttled that I could see.
    Also, whenever I'm on WiFi, here or in the US, all my calls go over that connection. NO international fees at all, unlimited time. People at home just dial my US number and have no idea I'm 5000 miles away, and they don't get billed for it. The funny part is when I'm home in the US, my calls

  • What a surprise. Mobile has been a racket from the very beginning. Is anybody surprised? Unlimited* plans. (*Sort of. OK, not really)

    It's as if the wireless industry (here in America) has been on a mission to redefine what the word "unlimited" means for the past three decades.

    Really though, once the consumer has already bought this months $1000 mobile phone (latest and greatest don-cha-know) it stands to reason that you can charge pretty much whatever you want and those people will pay it. This goes double

  • Why tethering AND unlimited data is a big deal?

  • to an expensive T-Mobile. I mean, their lack of short bandwidth signal means their coverage is spotty as hell.

    I plan to stick on my cheaper plan as long as I can. You'll never use more than a gig since they made 99% of video free (I have cheap phones, even 720p is just a waste). I'm guessing they did this because people like me where downgrading their plans when they noticed they weren't using any of the data. Pity I forgot to. Coulda saved a few bucks.
  • Digging through their website last night after hearing the news, it seem they are going to continue to offer their plan with up-to-2 GB LTE data for $50/mo. [t-mobile.com] Note that if you take T-Mobile One and get the $10 a month credit for using less than 2 GB of data you're actually spending more.

    Also, its important to note this is only for post-paid plans. T-Mobile will continue of offer a range of plans in their pre-paid space.

  • The FCC gave Verizon a smackdown in 2012 ( http://www.pcmag.com/article2/... [pcmag.com] ) when they were trying to charge people $20 to add hotspot/tethering to their plan even though they already paid for data and could use free tethering apps. The FCC stated that they are not allowed to restrict access to the service(data) by either blocking the apps from working(which I have personally experienced during this time on a verizon Xperia Play) or by charging for access to use hotspot(which verizon had conveniently supp
  • End user has no control or understanding of how apps use mobile data or precisely when they are on WiFi or LTE. Metered plans result in half of the users randomly hit up for extra $500, half paying for expensive plan they do not need and everyone hating their career and jumping to the first available alternative.

    Cell service providers and video service providers just have to work together to manage network congestion so that user doesn't have to and provide "480p" and "HD" plans with predictable price. Look

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