T-Mobile announced today up to 200 MB of free 4G LTE data every month if you buy a tablet from T-Mobile. Any tablet that is compatible with T-Mobile’s HSPA / LTE network will be eligible for the free data. Those with a T-Mobile voice plan have the option of 500MB of 4G data for $10 a month.
Starting Nov, 1, the company said cellular-enabled tablets will work right out the box without any setup and the 200 MB offer will apply even if customers do not have an existing billing relationship with T-Mobile. No annual service contract. No overages. The brand new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display are both included (twitter).
Once customers reach the time limit or data allotment they will not be throttled but will simple have their service stop and be prompted to purchase more data via passes, according to T-Mobile CMO Mike Sievert.
Customers who need more data can choose from a range of options, reports Fierce Wireless. For existing T-Mobile voice customers, the carrier will offer “always-on” tablet plans that start at $10 per month for 500 MB of LTE data. For customers who are not T-Mobile voice subscribers, that plan starts at $20 per month. Customers can add more LTE data in 2 GB increments for $10 more per month.
DSL Reports summarizes the current data plans in the United States.
According to T-Mobile, the free 200 MB means that each month customers can send approximately 800 Instagram photos, more than 2,500 emails or stream 200 minutes of music – all for free.
T-Mobile will also offer daily passes that include 500 MB of LTE data for $5, and weekly passes with 1 GB of LTE data for $10.
AT&T Mobility recently introduced its own $5 tablet plan that will give subscribers 250 MB of data for a single day as well as a $25 plan for 1 GB that can be used any time in a three-month period.
For a limited time, T-Mobile is charging $0 down for tablets, as long as customers qualify for a monthly installment plan, and is charging $26 per month for the iPad Air, $22 per month for the new iPad mini with Retina display, $18 per month for a first-generation iPad mini and $16 per month for a Nexus 7.
According to T-Mobile CMO Mike Sievert, the goal of the 200 MB of free data for life offer is to get customers using cellular data, noting that T-Mobile’s LTE network now covers 202 million POPs.
Tablets with built-in cellular modems are more expensive. A 32GB Nexus 7 with WiFi only goes for $269 while the same unit with LTE runs $349. A WiFi-only, 16GB iPad Mini with Retina display costs $399, while the same model with LTE costs $529, and the larger 9.7″ iPad Air runs $629 with LTE. An iPad Mini with Retina Display would cost $22.08 a month for 24 months or $529.92 on T-Mobile. Plus any data fees.
Nokia’s new Lumia 2520, a Windows RT-based, 10.1-inch, Snapdragon 800 device, will come bundled with WiFi and LTE. Verizon and AT&T will carry it with a retail price of $499. An iPad 2 with Wi‑Fi + 3G may be three generations behind, but it’s $529. The 6-inch, Nokia Lumia 1320 phone has a 720p HD display, 4G LTE and costs $339 (outside the US).
An LTE phone with a 5-6″ display costing $300-$400 (like the presumed Nexus 5) could increase the demand for LTE service. But AT&T and Verizon aren’t likely to be lowering LTE prices anytime soon. The duopoly is rapidly reaching capacity on 700 MHz and has no reason to lower prices until they can open up new LTE bands.
T-Mobile and Sprint, by contrast, use AWS and PCS bands for LTE which requires more towers but results in more LTE capacity. The big disruptor is likely to be Sprint which plans of placing 2.6 GHz LTE on all its 38,000 towers. That’s capacity to burn.
Ultra Mobile, a T-Mobile USA virtual operator, recently announced a new basic $19 per month service plan that will provide 250 voice minutes, unlimited global SMS (which the carrier said would work on any mobile number in 194 countries), 50 MB of high-speed data and $1.25 toward international calling.
For $49 per month, Solavei, another T-Mobile MVNO, can use Apple’s iPhone 5, Samsung’s Galaxy SIII or Google’s Nexus 4, with unlimited voice, text and data mobile service. The 4G data is capped at 4GB, after which Solavei throttles you back to 2G-level service.
A $300, 7″ LTE tablet wouldn’t be a stretch this year. Perhaps a $20/mo, 4GB data plan wouldn’t be a stretch next year.
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