Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile
USA is showing creeping signs that it's moving
towards its possible
new parent company, AT&T Inc. (T), in pricing and
allowances. While T-Mobile continues to offer competitive
multi-line plans, some loyal fans have been fearful about a series of
erosions to the company's "unlimited" data plans.
i. Bye Bye 200 MB "Unlimited", Hello,
In recent months "unlimited" was transitioned
to a capped plan where T-Mobile did not charge for overages, but
throttled data connections past your plans defined MB/GB limit. Now
T-Mobile may be preparing to make an even greater shift, with word
leaking that there will be overages on new 200 MB plans,
starting August 13.
The 200 MB plan is T-Mobile's most affordable
tier, available for a mere $10 USD/month. Existing customers can continue
to use the plan in its current (overage-free) form, at least until their
For new subscribers, you will get hit with $0.10
USD/MB fees. That may seem rather high (AT&T's overage is $10 USD/GB
-- or rough $0.01 USD/MB), but T-Mobile has softened the blow, capping the
maximum overage at $30 or $35 USD, depending on what kind of line you have.
In other words, customers will likely reach the overage far faster, but
won't risk the hundreds of dollars of overages that customers on some other
carriers have experienced.
ii. AT&T to Grandfather T-Mobile Users
In related news, an AT&T spokesperson
responded to our inquiry regarding how the possible acquisition will affect
T-Mobile users' plans. They stated, "T-Mobile consumers will be able
to keep their rate plans for as long as they want to, even when upgrading to a
comparable device, once the merger is completed."
We asked what exactly "comparable
device" meant. Our guess was it was based on the type of modem (3G,
HSPA+), but it could also mean feature phones versus "smart phones".
The AT&T spokesperson was unsure of the definition and was unable to
provide us with this information, so the precise details of the grandfathering
scheme are a bit nebulous, even if it is clear there will be such a scheme.
AT&T has the second
highest data prices in the industry, behind
Wireless (VZ). Ironically their price follows
their current size in terms of U.S. subscribers -- Verizon is no. 1 in the
country, while AT&T is a close no. 2. Despite the newly added
limitations, T-Mobile's data plans are still cheaper and less restrictive than
either of the top two.
Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) remains the only carrier to provide truly
uncapped and unlimited smart phone data. It also happens to be in a close
competition with T-Mobile for lowest data rates.