T-Mobile already offers no-contract mobile broadband data passes but starting May 20, the company will use lower per-gigabyte rates for these plans. These can be used with any tablet or Wi-Fi hotspot that supports T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network frequencies in the U.S., although I’ve even used a data-only SIM card in a Galaxy Nexus smartphone configured for VoIP. Currently, T-Mobile offers 100 MB for one week priced at $10; 1 GB good for one month for $30; 3 GB in a month for $50.
The overall price of the low-capacity one week plan is now rising to $15, but customers will pay less per bit: The $15 weekly pass provides 300 MB of mobile broadband. There is also a new middle-tier plan, making for three monthly plan options:
- 1.5GB 1-month pass for $25
- 3.5GB 1-month pass for $35
- 5GB 1-month pass for $50
Current customers have two ways of looking at the changes. The minimum for a prepaid data pass has gone up which may anger some, but the other plans provide enough flexibility for paying less while getting more service. For example: those on the $30/1GB plan can drop down to the new $25 pass while gaining 50 percent more data. Heavy data users ought to be happy as they’ll now get 5 GB per month for their $50; a boost from the old 3 GB limit.
The unfortunate part is that it’s unlikely anyone with a compatible device bought it without a contract. Those MiFis, USB sticks and HSPA+ tablets are far more attractive when subsidized by T-Mobile for lower up-front investments. Still, there’s opportunity to save money, even if you fall into that category. Depending on how far you are into your contract, it could be cheaper to pay an early termination fee for the service and then use these prepaid passes as needed; especially if you tend to use your tablet on Wi-Fi more than on T-Mobile’s data network.