T-Mobile today rolled out its next #uncarrier move during a big event held at the CES trade show in Las Vegas.
Amidst the trademark trash talking of competitors, some major new initiatives designed to once again shake up the mobile industry were announced.
In particular, T-Mobile is aiming to vastly simplify how cellular plans are priced - putting pressure on other carriers to do the same.
But in the process - some of the T-Mobile plans most loved by RVers are being eliminated.
T-Mobile's New Rules
T-Mobile CEO John Legere took particular aim at the numerous fees lurking deep in the fine print of most cellular bills:
“Wireless consumers pay Billions extra every year in added surcharges, taxes, monthly fees and carrier price hikes. It’s reached epidemic proportions! And, the carriers just keep inventing new ways to make their customers pay. So, the Un-carrier’s putting an end to it. Today, with Un-carrier Next, we’re laying down New Rules for the Mobile Internet”
Here are the details on T-Mobile's "Four New Rules" for the mobile industry announced today:
- What You See Should Be What You Pay – Beginning in February, all taxes and other various fees will be included in T-Mobile ONE plan pricing. The especially good news is that this feature is rolling out without a price-hike, meaning that everyone who switches to the new plans should see a drop in their monthly bills to simple easy-to-understand round numbers.
- You Shouldn't Have to Pay for What You Don't Use – All T-Mobile One smartphone and tablet lines come with unlimited data, but to show some love to families with a mix of heavy and light users, T-Mobile's new "KickBack" feature will rebate customers $10/mo for every line on their account that uses less than 2GB that month. The first T-Mobile One line on an account costs $70/mo, the second $50/mo, and each additional line is just $20/mo - so with KickBack additional light use lines become especially affordable at just $10/mo. Note that KickBack is NOT automatic, after January 22nd you do need to sign each line up for it via the T-Mobile app or my.tmobile.com web portal.
- Only YOU Should Have the Power to Change What You Pay – T-Mobile's "Un-Contract" for T-Mobile ONE plans promises that T-Mobile will never raise prices or force you to change plans. This is the first time any carrier has promised to grandfather an unlimited data line forever, without any potential for a future price hike.
- The Mobile Internet Shouldn’t Be Sold by Bits & Bytes - T-Mobile is getting rid of all metered usage lines with data limits. Starting January 22nd, the unlimited T-Mobile One plan will be the only plan offered for new customers, and the old Simple Choice plan will be fully eliminated. This sounds great, but... (Read on in the next section below for the downside!)
The new "Taxes & Fees Included" plans are rolling out on January 22nd - and current customers will need to manually opt in to the changes, though for most who are already on T-Mobile One there seems to be little downside to doing so.
You can pre-register to switch to the new plan here.
T-Mobile One: Not So Simple
The T-Mobile One plan is actually a bit more confusing and less unlimited than it sounds.
Here is how it breaks down - $70 for the first line, $120 for two lines, and $20/ea for additional lines. A line can be a phone or a tablet, but NOT a mobile hotspot.
These plans offer unlimited high-speed data, but are limited to 480p resolution "DVD Quality" video streaming, and "3G speed" tethering.
For an additional $15/line/mo you can add One+ features to as many lines as you'd like, unlocking the ability to manually activate 24hr day passes for HD video streaming.
Or for $25/line/mo you can add One+ International, which adds international voice calling features and unlimited high-speed tethering.
If you have just a single T-Mobile line, this means that it costs $95/mo to get all the T-Mobile One features.
Simple Choice Plans: No Longer An Option
Starting January 22nd, T-Mobile One will be the ONLY plan available for postpaid tablets and smartphones directly from T-Mobile, though current customers are grandfathered and will never be forced to change.
This means that the $35/mo 6GB Simple Choice tablet / hotspot plan that we have long recommended will no longer be available to new customers!
Missing entirely from T-Mobile's website now is any mention of Mobile Hotspots too, which were in the past supported by the same Simple Choice data plans as tablets.
And indeed - T-Mobile media relations confirms to us that T-Mobile One is the only options being offered for tablets, and the old Simple Choice plan is going away for hotspots too.
Hotspots are NOT eligible for the unlimited T-Mobile One plan.
But a new hotspot plan will be available if you know what to ask for. T-Mobile says the new plan will work like this:
"Hotspot plans are available.They range from 2GB – 22GB in increments of 4GB. 2GB plans start at $10 (after voice & autopay discount) and 4GB increment is $15 additional."
In other words, a 22GB hotspot plan will cost $85/mo, assuming you also have at least one T-Mobile voice line, and are set up to auto-pay.
The pricing isn't horrible - but we were able to confirm that the new hotspot plan will NOT support Binge On video streaming, Music Freedom music streaming, or Data Stash rollover data.
Fortunately, T-Mobile's 2G speed unlimited international roaming will continue to be supported.
But overall, starting January 22nd T-Mobile's dedicated mobile hotspot plan will be a LOT less appealing!
Get Grandfathered Now
If you want to lock in a postpaid Simple Choice hotspot or tablet plan, you have until January 22nd to do so.
This is the cheapest possible way to lock in Binge On video streaming access.
These older Simple Choice plans are no longer available via T-Mobile's website, but they can be ordered via the phone or in a T-Mobile store.
But after January 22nd they are gone forever.
Once you have one of these plans T-Mobile will never force you to give it up, but if you do ever switch to an unlimited T-Mobile One plan you will never be able to go back to the cheaper data-limited option.
We've been able to confirm that you will not even be able to change your monthly Simple Choice data limits after the 22nd - so make any changes to lock in 6GB, 10GB, or whatever size fits you best now.
For those who want an affordable T-Mobile backup plan (with DataStash you'll bank a lot of data easily for a rainy day) or a way to Binge On to tethered devices - grab a plan while you still can!
NOTE: This article applies to T-Mobile postpaid plans. T-Mobile's prepaid plans are not changing at the moment, and the prepaid (and more limited) version of Simple Choice seems like it will still be kept around. Do note the T-Mobile's prepaid tablet & hotspot plan does NOT include Binge On video streaming.
- T-Mobile Revises One+ Plan – Offers Lower Priced Option Without LTE Tethering
- Comparison of the Four Carriers - How do they rate for RVers?
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