T-Mobile just dropped one helluva big change on us, completely redesigning its plans and how it sells devices.
No matter how simple they are or how you explain them, there are bound to be questions left unanswered. We've been keeping an eye on the burning questions people are having regarding the changes, and done our best to answer them below. We implore you to first take a look at our full set of announcement posts from Tuesday, where we break down the gritty details of the different plans, as well as some device announcements and other details:
- T-Mobile announces new Android 4G LTE devices
- T-Mobile makes first LTE cities official
- T-Mobile LTE 'Simple Choice' no-contract rate plans are here
- T-Mobile simplifies tablet and hotspot data prices, too
Still curious to know a little more about T-Mobile's new rate plans? Hang around after the break and see if we can clarify a few things.
1. Will I be required to sign a 2-year contract on T-Mobile anymore?
Nope! T-Mobile will not require a 2-year contract for its services anymore. At this moment, authorized resellers (think Best Buy and RadioShack) will still offer 2-year contract "Classic Plans," but T-Mobile's own stores and website will not even offer the option.
2. How are family plans done in the new system?
The plan system for accounts with multiple lines is nearly identical to that of individual lines. The base cost of the first line on an account is $50, which gets you unlimited talk, text and data -- the first 500 megabytes of which is at full speed. The second line is $30 additional, for the same services. Each line thereafter is $10 more, also coming with the same talk, text and 500MB of full speed data.
Each line can be given an additional 2GB of data (for 2.5GB in total) for $10 per month per line. $10 more (per month per line) after that will offer you unlimited data on each line. If you would like more data, including hotspot usage, you can add 2GB of data per month at the rate of $10 to any line.
3. Wait ... so it's unlimited, but there's a limit on tethering?
The only place where the plans really get more complicated is when it comes to unlimited data and tethering. First let's talk about the tiered prices -- for any plan other than the $70 unlimited plan, hotspot and tethering are included. So for example if you have paid $20 extra for 4.5GB of data per month, you can tether with all of it.
On the $70 unlimited plan, there is only 500MB of tethering included. Additional buckets of tethering-available data can be purchased at the same rate as any other data -- $10 per 2GB. Ya, it's annoying, but it's also the only way T-Mobile can likely offer an unthrottled unlimited plan for $70 per month. We'll hope they budge a bit more on this going forward, but the prices aren't ulcer-inducing by any means.
4. Can I add a tablet to my plan? Does it share data with my other devices?
Tablets can now be added to a plan as if they were any other device, and have their own data allotment. When adding a tablet, hotspot, laptop or data stick to an account that already has a phone on it, the initial charge will be $10 and include 500MB of high speed data. The same data tiers apply as with the phones -- $10 per 2GB, up to 12.5GB total. There is currently no unlimited data option for tablet, hotspot, laptop or data stick devices.
5. Will I have to pay full retail for my device if I move to T-Mobile now?
With a move to the new Simple Choice no-contract plans, T-Mobile is differentiating between the cost of the plan and the cost of the phone. This means that if you would like to bring your own phone, or buy one from T-Mobile at full retail price, you will pay the regular rates mentioned above. If you would prefer to have a lower up-front cost but still have a new device, you can buy a phone on an installment plan.
The installment plans consist of a "down payment" and 24 even monthly installments thereafter, with no interest. For example, a new high-end device may set you back $99 down, and 24 payments of $20 -- or $579 in total. The amount of the down payment and installments will differ based on device, but we can expect prices similar to this example. The final purchase price of the phone should be nearly identical to the price if you were to purchase it up-front.
Again the installment plan you have for your phone is not tied to your service plan, so you can pay off your phone at any time and leave, regardless of how far into your service you are.
6. Will the phones bought from T-Mobile be SIM unlocked?
Like most carriers, T-Mobile will keep its devices SIM locked to its network by default if they are purchased on an installment plan. Save for a few cases (the iPhone 5 is expected to be unlocked) you should expect each device to come out of the box locked -- to be unlocked when you finish paying off the installment plan or if you are in good standing and traveling abroad.
7. Are there separate plans or charges for LTE devices?
Nope! T-Mobile is not distinguishing between plans and prices if you have an LTE device or not. This is a good thing! (The first LTE-capable devices on T-Mobile are the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy 4 and Galaxy Note 2 and the BlackBerry Z10.)
8. If I have an LTE device, where can I expect to see the new network?
T-Mobile has officially announced that Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose, Calif. and Washington, D.C. are the up and running now, with many more to come this year.
9. What additional features are included with Simple Choice plans?
- Call Forwarding (a big one for Google Voice users)
- Call holding, call waiting
- Caller ID
- Customer Care (T-Mobile is well known for their CS)
- Directory Assistance
10. I keep hearing about 1900MHz Deployment, should I care?
In order to make room for its LTE network deployment on AWS (that's 1700/2100MHz), T-Mobile has been moving its HSPA+ service over to the 1900MHz frequency. The reason why you may have heard about it is because this move gives interoperability with current AT&T (and most international) handsets for HSPA+ service. The move to 1900MHz is an important one only if you're interested in bringing a device to T-Mobile that doesn't support AWS.
The move has already taken place in dozens of major markets, and will continue as T-Mobile rolls out more locations with LTE. If you're buying a phone from T-Mobile, or another AWS-compatible device like the Nexus 4 from Google, you don't need to worry about your market having 1900MHz HSPA+.
Now we honestly don't think that we've answered every question on your minds, but hopefully we've hit the big ones. If you have some more specific questions to ask, we'll be continuing that discussion in the forums: