T-Mobile USA will start selling the Apple iPhone in about three to four months, reports Reuters, and will get rid of cellphone subsidies in a similar timeframe, according to Chief Executive John Legere at CES this week. AT&T, Verizon and Sprint currently give customers a device discount in exchange for tying them into a two-year contract.
T-Mobile confirmed the launch of a new contract-free unlimited data plan. Beginning today, T-Mobile customers will have access to a $70 plan with no contract that includes unlimited voice calling, messaging and data with no caps or overages.
T-Mobile’s 4G Connect program offers free 200MB of monthly data on PCs and tablets for Windows 8 laptops, Windows RT tablets, Ultrabooks and other devices by leveraging T-Mobile’s nationwide HSPA network. The Dell Inspiron 14z and HP Pavilion dm1 are the only devices available for now that qualify for the 4G Connect plan.
T-Mobile claims to be the first US carrier with HD Voice calling nationwide. Smartphones capable of HD Voice include the HTC One S, Nokia Astound and Samsung Galaxy S III, which also provide background noise cancellation.
Their Monthly4G plans is a pre-paid, contract-free, 4G plan for talk, text, gaming, streaming videos and music. T-Mobile is cutting the off-contract price of an LG Optimus L9 to $200 for the foreseeable future to take advantage of the new throttling-free internet access as well as unfettered calling and voice.
On stage at CES, CTO Neville Ray declared that their LTE-A service would go live in Las Vegas within “weeks.” T-Mobile says it will cover 100 million Americans with LTE-A on the AWS band. That will expand to 200 million by the end of 2013.
The company has enough spectrum to match AT&T and Verizon’s LTE network coverage, and it will even surpass Sprint’s LTE coverage by a factor of two. T-Mobile has been moving its HSPA+ service to the 1900MHz (PCS) band and already has several dozen markets cleared for LTE on their 1.7/2.1 GHz (AWS) band. Ray said that the Galaxy Note II’s latent LTE could be switched on through a firmware update. T-Mobile will launch a refreshed version of Samsung’s Galaxy S III that features support for its LTE network.
T-Mobile USA is currently seeking approval to merge with smaller wireless rival MetroPCS. CEO Legere said that he could explore a relationship with Dish Networks or a combination with smaller rival Leap Wireless.
He said the company has not had talks with Dish, but when asked if he would consider a partnership with the satellite company he said: “The answer is obviously yes.”
Meanwhile, América Móvil’s TracFone Wireless, announced that its Straight Talk brand will sell Apple’s iPhone 5 and iPhone 4 in Walmart stores starting Jan. 11. Straight Talk will sell the iPhone 5 for $649 for the 16 GB model only, and the iPhone 4 for $449 for the 8 GB model only. Walmart said it will offer “a no interest fixed-monthly payments special financing offer for only $25 a month with a Walmart Credit Card” in order to help customers pay for the phone.
The iPhone 5 without a wireless contract starts at $649 in the U.S. on Apple.com. In the U.S., the iPhone 5 starts at $199 on most carriers with a two-year wireless contract, while older models are available for $99 or for free with a two-year contract. A cheaper iPhone may be available in the later half of 2013, according to rumors.
TracFone’s Straight Talk will offer the phone with two plans: $45 per month for unlimited voice, text and data, and $60 per month for unlimited voice, text and data and unlimited international calling to around 1,000 international destinations.