T-Mobile Tweaks Pre-Paid Phone and Data Plans


On Monday of next week, T-Mobile will introduce new prepaid plans for handsets and data devices that are lower in price, but have set bandwidth limits. Also launching next week is T-Mobile’s first prepaid 3G USB dongle, the Jet Prepaid USB Stick, which can be used with plans by the day, week or month. Here’s a rundown of the new plans for 3G-enabled feature phones and smartphones:

  • $70/month Unlimited Talk and Text with 2 GB of Data
  • $50/month Unlimited Talk and Text with 100 MB of Data
  • $30/month 1,500 Talk and Text (mix and match voice and text messages) with 30 MB of Data
  • Unlimited Text and Talk $0.10/minute
  • $1.49/day Web DayPass

The first plan in the list, at $70, is similar to the one I use for the unsubsidized Google Nexus One (s goog) I purchased in January. I currently pay T-Mobile a no-contract price of $79 per month for unlimited talk, text and data. Switching to the new plan would save me $9 per month, which is certainly appealing, but my unlimited data would then become limited to 2 GB. Note that while my current data plan is unlimited, T-Mobile reserves the right throttle back my bandwidth speeds if I cross over a 5 GB monthly threshold.

Studies show that 98 percent of smartphone users such as myself use under 2 GB of monthly data, and I’m no exception. Over the past several months, my average use of T-Mobile’s 3G network has been roughly 600 MB per month. However, I’m using the wireless hotspot feature of my device more often during travel, so I anticipate my usage to go up: I think I’ll stick with my slightly more expensive plan as a result. Average smartphone users, however, are likely under the 2 GB cap, so the new $70 plan is likely to appeal.

T-Mobile hasn’t indicated the cost of the new Jet Prepaid USB stick, which should appeal to casual 3G users, but the currently offered Jet runs $149.99 without a contract. Plan prices and capacities range based on the time frame: $10 buys 100 MB for a week, $30 allows for 300 MB in a month and $50 increases the monthly cap to 1 GB. Compared to contract plans that typically offer 5 GB for $60 a month, the Jet’s cost per MB may not appear competitive. But customers that don’t want a long-term contract or simply want mobile broadband on an irregular basis should be happy with the flexibility afforded by the new plans, which have no annual contract, no credit check, no overages and can be used with any of the company’s mobile broadband products. And while the cost per MB appears expensive when compared to other 3G carriers, T-Mobile customers in an HSPA+ coverage area will gain the benefit of faster broadband speeds.

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Kevin C. Tofel

The source was an email sent directly to me from T-Mobile’s PR folks. I’d expect an official PR on their site on the 18th, as well as the new rate plans on their consumer page.


so does the ‘daypass’ option for $1.49 mean i can get unlimited data no caps/throttling for about $45/month?

thats a pretty good deal.


i was just thinking about this. why would anyone get the data plans? why not just use the prepaid phone SIM with the daypass option in a USB device? seems this would be cheaper and unlimited.


Why don’t you say it like it is? These are ridiculous prices and plans. Just compare to European prepaid data offerings.

Greed Is Good

This is good news. I do not enjoy being tethered to a 2-year plan and out-dated phone. This gives more choice and freedom imo. As good as this is it is still too high and am hoping the google can corner some white-space spectrum and offer a cheaper solution to the masses. These government protected carriers have had their collective hand so deep into my pockets this last decade i think i have grown a permanent appendage in my nether region and hope to severe it one day.


I wish there was a plan for people who want unlimited data + text, but very little talk time. Something like data + text + 30 mins of talk for 35$ a month (data is 30$ a month for their smart phone plans).

Kevin C. Tofel

That will likely happen when voice truly becomes just another form of data on LTE and other 4G networks. I don’t expect such plans to be any cheaper, however.


If you can deal with their phone selection, check out Virgin Mobile’s Beyond Talk plans: $25/month gets you 300 peak minutes + “unlimited” text, e-mail, data, and web (“unlimited” = I’m sure there are limits like no tethering). VM does have some Blackberrys (+$10/month) and Android phones.


That sounds great, but unfortunately one of my other requirements is a GSM network so I can use my phone when traveling (by replacing the sim card, etc). Since Virgin Mobile is run by Sprint, it must be a CDMA network.


Ben, you might want to try prepaid voice with prepaid data. I’ve got a T-Mobile prepaid SIM inside my unlocked Touch Pro 2, paired with a MiFi using prepaid data with Virgin Mobile. The two work great together, save me a ton of money, and I get the luxury of a voice and data plan from two different providers.



Thanks for the advice. I read more details about what you mentioned on your blog. Using a Virgin Mobile mifi as a personal wifi hotspot, for $40 a month, and then using your phone’s wifi to connect to the internet via the mifi is a pretty good system, especially if you also use a laptop a lot. However, you then have 2 disadvantages: you have to purchase the mifi device, and you have a 2nd device to carry around with you.

That said, there’s another advantage that you might not have thought of. You mentioned using pre-paid voice, but if you’re connected via wifi, don’t many VoIP services like skype allow calling when on wifi? Have you considered trying to avoid pre-paid voice by doing that?


@ Ben

Truth be told, I’ve yet to try Skype on my TP2, although it does have a front-facing camera! It’s something I’ll need to experiment with. I don’t do much lip service though, and with the price of prepaid minutes so cheap, I can go for months at a time between refills.

You are right, I did get the MiFi primarily for my notebook/netbook, but I gotta admit it does complement my smartphone so perfectly, especially that I’ve got that prepaid SIM in it. I don’t have any problems carrying the MiFi around at all – it disappears in my shirt pocket!



Virgin Mobile – $40/month for full 3G speed with NO CAPS (totally unlimited)

There’s no way TMO or any provider is going to get the message if they still insist on restricting people’s usage with overpriced offerings. Likewise, Virgin Mobile offers you the MiFi 2200 with their plans, a device that’s FAR MORE useful and practical than any USB stick.


Kevin C. Tofel

Luscious, I hate to tell you this, but if you continue to expect unmetered data plans in the future, you’re setting yourself up for an epic fail. ;) Every carrier has either taken steps towards a future of pay for what you use or has signaled such steps. AT&T is already doing it, Verizon has specifically stated they will do so and Sprint said they won’t rule it out. It’s even starting to happen overseas, which is the one area you use as an example of how you think it should work. My point: wireless spectrum is finite and therefore can’t economically be expected to be totally unlimited.

Having said that, the Virgin Mobile deal is great (as noted in our post about it), so folks should enjoy it while it lasts — because it won’t likely be around forever.


I don’t know Kevin. By what you say it would mean that 4G/LTE would end it’s current unlimited run as well – a technology that hasn’t even reached the biggest of cities. Yet for mobile broadband to really take off in this country, something is going to have to break somewhere – $70/month for a stingy 2GB or 5GB plus overage charges is NOT where I see the future of mobile broadband. Sorry!

Virgin Mobile’s strategy is how it should be done, and they set an example for others to follow. They get paid their money up-front, regardless of how much data you use, be it 2, 5 or 25+GB. You’re not tied to a contract, you purchase the device unsubsidized, and on months when you don’t use it, you simply don’t pay.

You cannot take advantage of the capabilities of a device like the MiFi with a data plan that is capped, especially if you intend to use it with a notebook/smartphone and share your connection with friends as well.

If Virgin Mobile’s offering wasn’t so attractive, then why are so many people signing up? In the time it took me to buy mine, the store I was at sold another five! And if it didn’t make good business sense, then why have carries in Europe stuck with this same sales model for so many years?

American carriers made the same foolish mistakes when they wiped out unlimited voice plans a few years ago, only to have them come back due to overwhelming consumer demand.

People want to ENJOY their devices the way they were designed to work – they don’t want to count how many geebee’s they’re using and hate being forced to pay overage charges. The first carrier to get that message and give consumers that freedom will be the carrier that wins!

Kevin C. Tofel

You’re missing the point with “by what you say….” It’s not me that saying tiered data plans are coming. It’s the carriers. It doesn’t matter what I say, what you say or if we both want unlimited data: the carriers are moving to this model. You say you don’t see stingy data plans as the future of mobile broadband, and I’m saying you need to take another look at where the market is heading.

VM is a great one-off deal, but ultimately you have to look at Sprint to see VM’s future since they own the company. While I would love to see prepaid unlimited data plans become the norm, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.

But lets walk down your path of unlimited data: how do you expect the provider to manage service levels for everyone as the network becomes saturated by high demand that it can’t keep up with? If you have an answer for that, the carriers and I would love to hear it! ;) So might AT&T in particular which had to invest billions in infrastructure to even attempt to keep iPhone users happy with their data needs.

My point: you’re looking at this from the consumer side and on those aspects, I agree with you. From a business standpoint and by talking with executives at the carriers, however, it won’t matter.

Mike Perry

It’s be interesting to see what the details of their new “Unlimited Text and Talk $0.10/minute” plan are. It sounds almost identical to what I already have and it’s already the best deal in the industry for casual users. It works out to about 10 cents a minute when your prepay $100. Maybe this eliminates that large prepay.

With T-Mobile’s existing prepay plan and an Internet phone I’ve lowered my phone bill from about $45/month to about $6/month with unlimited long distance. That’s hard to improve on.


Seems like all carriers are change their data and voice plans to compete. This is good for us consumers. Also is Verizon’s tier data out yet? I think I just saw that it will be 2GB for $20 a month. This cuts AT&T $25 for 2GB of data. I have been using the 2GB and averaging around 1.9GB, but then I get a text that tells me that I am close so I watch for data use for the next few days, until my new cycle.

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