Uncarrier? T-Mobile’s new family plan sounds great, only until it isn’t

Sometimes T-Mobile makes it hard for me to like them.

T-Mobile announced a new Simple Choice Family Plan on Monday that will allow a family of four to enroll in 10GB shared monthly data plan. The same freedoms from its other Simple Choice plans apply: music streamed from certain services won’t count against your cap, your calls and messaging are unlimited, International data is free, etc. The plan, which is available beginning July 30th, will cost $100 per month (plus any equipment installment fees [EIP] and applicable taxes). At face value, that’s a really incredible deal. With T-Mobile’s current pricing, a 4-phone family plan that allots each phone 3GB of monthly data would cost $140 before EIP and taxes. Look a little further into this new plan, and you’ll see that the family isn’t actually sharing 10GB of data. Instead, each device is permitted 2.5GB of 4G LTE speeds, which is why I drew comparison to the 3GB-4-smartphone family plan that exists currently. Still, 2.5GB for 4 phones at $100 is a great deal.

Once I took the time to sit down and understand the new plan, I became less annoyed than I was when I first read about it. Still, what bugs me is that T-Mobile was supposed to be the company that was getting away from the twisted and confusing marketing. “Simple Choice” has now become less simple to people who don’t see the wireless industry as clearly as I do. They see Verizon and AT&T marketing 10GB of shared data usage and will assume that T-Mobile’s 10GB data plan is similar, because they don’t specify up front that each phone is limited to 2.5GB of high speed access. You won’t be charged overages if you go over your 2.5GB data limit, but your speeds will probably slow to an unusable crawl.

What’s more is that the new plan only runs until January 2nd, 2016. On that date, instead of grandfathering in users to the plan until they wish to make a change, T-Mo will automatically convert your account to a 4GB Simple Choice plan, where each line is permitted 1GB of usage per month at the same cost. So, in a year and a half, you will have to either deal with a lower data limit or spend more money on a plan that gives you more data. None of us can predict what kind of plans T-Mobile will be offering come January 2nd, 2016 and how much they’ll cost, but again, the transparency here is lacking. The data drop to 1GB was depicted on T-Mobile’s website in easy-to-miss fine print.

T-Mobile’s Uncarrier movement is supposed to set it apart from the other wireless carriers, who blast you with hidden fees and charges and are not forthright about what they’re doing behind the scenes. For the most part, its efforts have been stellar, and this is a great deal – a great family plan for a lot of people. T-Mobile has become a carrier that could be considered a “close friend.” But this lack of clarity is not very “uncarrier,” and that is very worrisome for an operator that can’t afford to pull this kind of crap and speak so vehemently against the competitors it tries to better.

  • I pay $120 + tax for 4 lines (2x 3GB plan + 2x 1GB plan). This new 10GB plan would save me $20/month and can save $340 until Jan 2016 by switching to this. The problem? Two of us use nearly 2-3 GB / mo and the other two use only ~0.5 GB / mo. If they get rid of the 2.5 GB barrier per line, I’d instantly switch!

    • That would be an awesome deal, but would still bother me for the simple fact that it lumps them right back in with other wireless carriers. John Legere once defamed shared data. I wouldn’t like to see him go back on his words like that.

      • Yup, pretty much. Sprint was looking super innovative in 2010 and then after 1-2 years they took the wrong turn into all the carrier nonsense. I hope the same doesn’t happen with T-Mobile…

        Also, awaiting for Google Music to be added to their free music streaming…

        • I personally detest Google Music for a plethora of reasons, but it boggles my mind that it wasn’t included in the launch of their Music Freedom initiative. You would think that Google Music, Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, and iTunes Radio would all be there, no questions asked, right from the start.

  • Adam Knapp

    Could you provide a link that says where AT&T, with the 10GB shared data, limits each device to 2.5 GB? I couldn’t find it anywhere. I’m trying to pick a place to go for my family (5 phones), coming from sprint, and I’m really between AT&T and Straight Talk. I’m not really in much of a metropolitan area, so I’m not counting on T-mobile to be as reliable.

    • Adam, AT&T doesn’t limit per-line access. They have truly shared data. One person can use 8GB and the rest can use 2GB.

      • Adam Knapp

        Wow…I completely misread what you wrote…dang still must’ve been half asleep this morning haha

        • No worries. Thanks for reading. 🙂