By Joe Levi | April 18, 2013 7:31 AM
T-Mobile has been my cellular carrier since before they were T-Mobile. Yes, I’m a VoiceStream guy! Anyone remember those days? I picked VoiceStream because (1) they were all digital, (2) they used an international standard, (3) I could switch to any other phone just by swapping the SIM card, and (4) they were less expensive than anyone else. They also had fairly limited coverage and you couldn’t stray far from big cities or Interstate highways without losing signal. That was fine with me, I was covered 90% of the time.
Since then “regular” phones have become “smart phones” and our cellular plans began to incorporate “text messaging” and eventually data. GPRS data to be precise, followed by EDGE. It was painfully slow, but we only used it for email and calendar syncing, so it wasn’t really that bad.
Fast forward to today and we have cellular plans for devices that don’t even have “telephone” capabilities built into them. Though I still use a “phone” as my primary portable device, I only use the “phone” bits about 5% of the time. The other 95% is either on-device stuff, or makes use of mobile data.
I was lucky: I got in on the mobile data craze back when I picked up my T-Mobile G1 and their special “Android plan”. Originally that gave me “unlimited data”, but it was later reduced to “unlimited data with a 5GB throttle”. (That still sounds like a “limit” to me, but who’s counting, right?)
It didn’t take carriers long to realize that “unlimited” was a lot, and their networks were terribly under-prepared for the massive influx of smartphones and the new data-hungry apps that would flood the airwaves. Carriers started “limiting” unlimited plans and capping people’s monthly data allotment. Though not cool, some would argue that it was “necessary”. Customers, on the other hand, weren’t happy and started abandoning their long-time carriers for others that still had “unlimited” plans available — until none were left.
Through it all I stuck with T-Mobile
I had unlimited calling and semi-unlimited data, but I had to pay for every text message that I sent and received — at 10 cents a pop. It was either that or pay an extra $10 each month for “unlimited text messaging”. I opted, instead, to use Google Voice as my text messaging client. It uses your data plan to send and receive texts, so I was set!
That’s when T-Mobile and AT&T decided they wanted to get into bed together. Ultimately that partnership failed, but it netted T-Mobile a handsome sum as a “consolation prize”, but the damage to their user-base had been done. T-Mobile was bleeding customers.
That’s when they shifted gears and changed the game
T-Mobile did something bold: they dropped the contract requirements on their new plans.
Then they did something crazy: they made the plans “unlimited”.
Finally, the did something completely insane: they offered their plans for $50 a month.
Under the new plans you’d get unlimited talk, unlimited text, and unlimited data — though only the first 500MB would be “high speed”. You could add another 2GB of un-throttled data for an extra $10 a month. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, those two plans include tethering, so you can hook your tablet or laptop up through your phone and share its data connection. The “throttle caps” still apply, but you don’t have to pay another tethering fee.
To get truly unlimited data you have to pay an extra $20 each month over the initial $50, and you lose the ability to tether (but you can add that back in for a nominal fee). The second line is cheaper, and the third, forth, and fifth lines are ridiculously low.
I was tempted
The deals seemed too good to be true, especially when teamed up with my corporate discount which knocks a percentage off each of the costs I mentioned above. I went ahead and took the leap. I owned my own phone and was on a non-contract plan anyway, so it didn’t cost me anything to switch.
I’ve been on the new plans for a few weeks now. My wallet is a bit thicker and my service hasn’t changed. So far I’m happy. No. Strike that. So far I’m ecstatic! This is great! And if I ever don’t like something, I can call and change on the fly. Or, if I decide I don’t like T-Mobile, I can switch to another carrier any time I want. The other carrier won’t give me the same good deal that T-Mobile is giving me, so I don’t know why I’d want to change, but I can.
Before you go thinking this was a post bought and paid for by T-Mobile, it wasn’t. I pay for my cellular plan out of my own pocket. I make my own decisions who to go with for my cellular provider. I’ve been satisfied with T-Mobile so far, but these new plans just seemed too good to be true. Rather than leaving you to wonder about them, I gambled my own plan, my own phone number, and those of my family, so you wouldn’t have to.
When all is said and done, is it too good to be true? It seems that way, but it’s not. Our European readers may be wondering what all the hoopla is about. After all, this is the sort of system they’ve had in place for a very long time. On this side of the pond, however, it’s new. And I like it. And I think you will, too!
Have you made the switch yet? If so, how do you like it? If not, why? Let us know in the comments!