Plan is only $2 USD/month more than the previous equipment protection plan, which it overlaps

Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile USA has been drawing a lot of attention lately.  First, there's the merger of the budget carrier with MetroPCS.  Then there are the signs of recovery T-Mobile has been showing after many quarters of losses.  Lastly, there's the company's dramatic decision to move away from subsidized handsets and long-term contracts, becoming the only carrier to move towards a more European model.

Today the carrier unveiled another unique offer to customers that's sure to draw interest -- a biannual phone replacement plan called "JUMP!".  Here's how it works.

Currently T-Mobile offsets the sting of unsubsidized handsets by splitting the lumped cost into payments under its two-year "Equipment Installment Program" (EIP).  For instance, an iPhone 5 costs $20 USD/month under the EIP, plus a one-time payment of $99 USD (for a total of $580 USD).  But that still leaves customers in a bind, as they either have to pay the full remaining cost of the device, if they choose to upgrade early or leave T-Mobile.

That's where JUMP! comes in. It costs $10 USD/month, or $120 USD/year, but entitles you to trade in your handsets twice every 12 months.  T-Mobile USA will presumably resell these relatively new handsets to non-JUMP! customers, under the standard EIP.  Meanwhile, your remaining payments are voided and you get to pick a new phone.

To be clear, you still have to pay your monthly EIP fee, on top of $120 USD annual JUMP! fee, so the plan will only save you if you want expensive flagship phones (which makes sense, as otherwise why would you be upgrading biannually?).

But the plan also brings extra benefits -- protection against "malfunction, damage, loss, or theft".  T-Mobile had previously charged $8 USD/month for that protection alone, so the JUMP! plan looks like an even better deal in that light.

T-Mobile USA store
JUMP! both protects your phone and allows you to take it in to a store every sixth months for an upgrade. [Image Source: Bloomberg]

T-Mobile USA President and CEO John Legere brags, "At some point, big wireless companies made a decision for you that you should have to wait two years to get a new phone for a fair price. That's 730 days of waiting. 730 days of watching new phones come out that you can't have. Or having to live with a cracked screen or an outdated camera.  We say two years is just too long to wait. Today, we're changing all that with the launch of JUMP! Now, customers never have to worry about being stuck with the wrong phone. And, yes - it's really as good as it sounds."

Additionally, the carrier unveiled a $100 USD/month family plan that supports unlimited calling and text on four lines, plus 500 MB of high speed data to split (additional data is available for free, but at 3G speeds).  

T-Mobile also gives an update on its 4G LTE network, which it is currently in the process of rolling out.  T-Mobile USA is the last major carrier to deploy LTE, but it's planning an aggressive deployment to catch up.  According to today's release, the LTE network now covers 116 cities, or roughly 157 million Americans.

Source: T-Mobile USA

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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