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T-Mobile’s UN-Carrier Approach Sounds Awesome, But Killing Contracts Shouldn’t be Their Message or Focus [Opinion]

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T-Mobile is trying to shake up the entire wireless industry this month by taking the “Un-carrier” approach to wireless service. Gone are the two-year contracts and 23-month phone upgrade cycles – in are the month-to-month plans with the option to upgrade to the newest phones whenever you please at the lowest prices. They are also shunning tiered data plans (sort of), spouting off colorful commentary to their competitors, and claiming to have cancelled their membership to the “out-of-touch wireless club,” a direct reference to the “Big 4″ U.S. carriers grouping that includes Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. It’s a lot of marketing speak and posturing, but is it even the right approach? 

In T-Mobile’s new plans, customers can sign up for unlimited talk and text for $50, with 500MB of data. If they want more data, they can add on 2GB for $10 or go fully unlimited for an additional $20. Second lines are $30, with data remaining at the $10 and $20 price points. After the first two lines, additional lines are $10 per month without data.

Of course, those monthly rates do not include the monthly payment plans you make on the phone you just purchased through them. See, T-Mobile will get you into the brand new iPhone 5 for $99, but they’ll then charge you a monthly fee until you have fully paid off the full $579 price of the phone (or whatever retail is these days). It’s their way of killing subsidies – whether or not you like the approach can be debated for hours, so we’ll leave it as it is.

They also launched their LTE network in seven cities and hope to cover up to 200 million people by the end of this year. Sure, they are late to the party, but they are hoping to ramp up rollout so that they can keep up with Verizon and AT&T.

But here’s the thing – if I were to ask you today, why you aren’t a T-Mobile customer, I bet I can guess the answer in a matter of seconds. It’s the coverage, isn’t it? Too many times in the comments of this site have we seen, “I’d switch to T-Mobile in a heartbeat, but I get zero coverage at my house/work/regularly visited bar.” We’ve even bragged up prepaid plans and adopting the unlocked model, yet so many of you still bring up the fact that Verizon gives you the best coverage and that’s exactly why you’ve stuck with them for so long. There is no denying that you’d love to go with the cheapest carrier that provides the most freedom, but in reality, you can’t do it at this time.

Here are the coverage maps of the northwest that I pulled minutes ago from Verizon (left) and T-Mobile’s (right) websites to add some perspective:

verizon mapt-mobile map

So here is where I don’t think T-Mobile is taking the correct approach at their latest attempt at a comeback. In my opinion, I don’t necessarily think it’s all about two-year contracts, subsidies and cheap no-frills plans. People want to know that they are going to have coverage 99% of the time. Mobile phones are replacing home phones by the second, so things like reliability are more important than ever. When consumers take that weekend road trip or fly back home to their small home town, will they have service? If they hit up an outskirts suburb in a major city, what’s their data coverage going to be like?

We’ve even talked about Verizon’s insanely priced Share Everything plans, yet as expensive as they remain, with prepaid options sitting out there at arm’s reach that are half the cost, customers still won’t switch because they know exactly what they are getting and have been getting for years. T-Mobile is still known as having sh*tty service, so is becoming the Un-carrier going to change that? And whether that’s still true or not depends on the person, but that’s sort of the point here.

While my time with T-Mobile’s service has been limited to my life with the Nexus 4, I can tell you this. I live in Portland, a decent sized city and have asked my wife to look something up for me more times in the last four months than I did the previous three or four years of my smartphone-filled life combined because I constantly run into a lack of signal or coverage. It was spotty in New York during Samsung’s Galaxy S4 event, it’s at times non-existent at Blazers games in downtown Portland, I lose service when I drive 5 minutes south to Lake Oswego (suburb of Portland), and typically find myself carrying a second phone (Verizon or AT&T) with me when I know I’ll be heading out for more than a few hours at a time.

Again, I like no-contracts, unlocked phones, and a “f*ck the man” approach to life. Props to T-Mobile for that. I even despise the recent approaches by Verizon and AT&T to essentially scam consumers into overpriced shared data plans while selling them on unlimited text and calling features that they don’t need anymore. But did any of T-Mobile’s song and dance change their network status or image? I don’t know that it did. Give us great wireless service that’s reliable and we’ll sign on the dotted line, whether that includes a contract or not.

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  • tmobile=sucks

    I have been a loyal customer for over two years. My contract has already ended imagine my shock when I went into my store and they say to me even though we say 99 down for an Iphone your really gonna have to pay 279 down even though you have paid us on time every month for two years. I promptly told him to eat a d*ck and went to AT&T they gave me 4 lines no problem no deposit oh yeah and I did not have to pay 279 for my Iphone.

    I have no problem with what T-mobile is trying to do in the industry but screwing over loyal customers to make an extra buck upfront is plain wrong. I never had a problem with them service wise or customer service wise until today.

    • view2share

      No, you pay more each month. You are indeed paying for an iPhone every two years. AT&T is not giving you anything. You can, after 2 yrs buy another contract and sell the phone you have. The iPhone has an excellent resale price. It is all in which you prefer. The $50 per month plan at T-Mobile would be all I need, though I would go for an Andriod on their system, since only 3G is top speed for iPhones on T.

  • Disruption Lover

    I’m a long-time Verizon Wireless customer, with about 10 months ’til current contract end. Could there be a new kid on the block? — Republic Wireless. Their no-contract service (“Hybrid Wi-Fi Calling”) offers nationwide coverage and unlimited talk, text, and data for $19/mo. RW’s service currently runs only on the dual-band (Wi-Fi and Sprint’s 3G cellular network) Motorola DEFY™ XT Android smartphone. If you buy the phone ($249), the service is $19/mo. If you pay only $99 “down,” the service is $29/mo. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. I am DEFINITELY gonna trial the RW phone in about 9 months!

    • view2share

      If gambling on Sprint, then try the Ting — I mean to say, it sounds good. Pay only for what you use. I have no idea if Sprint works in your area. Verizon is pretty pricey, but works everywhere…. just about, so in a way, it is fair priced.

  • ilkhan

    T-Mo isn’t going to win on coverage. They just aren’t. They have to focus on their strengths, and thats being the “UNcarrier”. The guy who doesn’t act like the rest. They can advertise on network when they actually can compete on network. Thats not right now.

  • Granted

    Nice cursing, it really ups the caliber of reporting done here. Only one thing keeps me on Verizon – my unlimited data plan. As soon as I am forced off of that and forced to have to keep track of my data usage, I am gone. And, for me, it is the principal more than anything, coupled with my stance against Verizon’s greed and unethical hypocrisy. I use the smallest amount of plan data, because I am at home working and I strictly use WiFi through my home router. But that fact is inconsequental to me, they take away my unlimited, they instantly lose my businesss and, for me, it is as simple as that.

  • name

    T-Mobiles map looks like a face

  • Tay

    I support this, but their coverage in my area is terrible. I hope that it gets better. Not being locked up in a contract for 2-years is amazing.

  • Neal Horowitz

    Someone else mentioned this, but those coverage maps are incredibly misleading in the crops you posted. The T-Mo map covers a significantly larger area and so it appears to be much sparser relatively than it should. Yes, VZW coverage is denser, but not nearly as much as those maps suggest.

    I switched to magenta from blue a couple months ago and am super happy with it. Saving around $55 per month for my and my wife’s smartphones (just under $100 on T-mo with unlimited text/2GB data compared to just over $150 from ATT for 200 texts and 2/3GB of data), roughly tripling download speeds at home (also half again faster download speeds than my brother got on his VZW LTE here). Yes, there are a few spots I get EDGE where I got HSPA on AT&T, but it’s worth it to me. Obviously people still on big red don’t agree or spend more time in undeveloped areas.

  • http://twitter.com/AllanMcGraw Allan McGraw

    Can’t you already do this on any carrier technically if you really wanted to? With T-Mobile you can get a month-to-month plan by purchasing a phone for the full retail amount. I’ve gone month-to-month on Verizon because my two-year contract expired. If I wanted a new phone and wanted to stay on month-to-month with Verizon, I could just purchase a new phone at the full retail price, correct? Only difference is the T-Mobile monthly plan would be a bit cheaper but worse coverage…

    • gokusimpson

      I think this is correct. I’m also month-to-month on Verizon with unlimited data

  • cb2000a

    I miss T-mobile. Their wifi calling was great. I could call out or receive calls in areas where there was zero cell phone reception using wifi. Also, after my wife and I got married and drove from Kansas City area to Seattle I was never without phone service even in remote areas (was switched over to other carriers who had agreements with T-mobile so no roaming). Here is Hawaii T-Mo has great coverage. We switched to ATT because my wife wanted the Samsung Note and I want to switch back to TMo as soon as our contracts are up. No more contracts…ever.

  • as123

    I used to be on Verizon, but I switched to T-Mobile. Verizon had better coverage, like there was LTE in places where T-Mobile only had edge. But otherwise, in the sf bay area, the coverage is not that bad. I get good coverage in my home. It just becomes a problem when I travel to new developments or the mountains, far away from a city.

  • ShangTsung702

    Is the line even dotted anymore? I’ve only been signing on solid lines.

  • jbegs

    How often can you upgrade phones? I feel like that is a major sticking point. If I could get a new phone every year for like $200 – $250 and not worry about contract stuff, I would sign up.

    • JoshGroff

      You would have to pay off the rest of the cost of the first phone before upgrading to the second most likely, but yes, theoretically you can upgrade whenever you want.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    Smartphones need to become like computers. You buy from manufacturer and then go to ISP to get internet. Isn’t this where the industry is heading? 5G will be so fast, carriers can do tiers by speed. Why can’t a smartphone last 4 years like a computer, especially with dev community. Verizon I will pay you top dollar to provide me fast reliable internet and that’s all I want you to do.

  • Richard Yarrell

    Major props for T-Mobile and the direction they are trying to invent. Great deals on handsets and great plans to go along with the beginning of it’s LTE launch. Rather people on Verizon or At&t care about this doesn’t matter to us on Tmobile and vice versa. People will choose what they want or need and I have been their done that with Verizon it didn’t serve my purpose here in New York City. I gladly KICKED them Verizon to curb for T-mobile and haven’t looked back in over a year. Here in New York City and many other major cities Verizon and At&t is useless compared to T-mobile regardless of what Verizon fanboys say.

    • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

      I guess it depends on where you are in NYC. Friends of mine on T-mobile would walk in a building, and signals are gone. Some people said the west side’s signals are better, but I don’t go there often so I don’t know. In the suburb, Long Island area, you just can’t beat Verizon. Last year when Sandy hit, I had to go to my brother-in-law’s house as a shelter. 20 people in his house, the only carrier that had signals was Verizon, in 4G. He even lost his optimum cable connection for the first 3 days, but I could still use my Galaxy Nexus to tether my laptop.

      Frankly, if T-mo is as good as Verizon when it comes to coverage, I will switch in a heartbeat. Hell, if it’s even 80% as good as Verizon, I will switch. I am now paying almost 300 for 4 lines, after tax. The new T-mo unlimited plan will save me a lot. I am hoping when their LTE network is up, the whole network will get better.

    • squiddy20

      “and the direction they are trying to invent.” T-Mobile USA didn’t “invent” any of this “uncarrier” approach. Basically all of Europe has been doing it this way for the past decade-or-so. -_-

    • JoshGroff

      I’m going to be running my vzw line as a work phone from now on, just got an N4 for personal use. Time to rock that unlimited 4G.

  • http://twitter.com/D_Shady Dennis Da Menace

    Hey Kellex,

    TMo works fine for me in NYC all the time & I’m there 3-4 times a year.

    I’ve been saying this for a long time now since I’ve been with TMo forever.

    “If TMo doesn’t have coverage in that certain area…most likely I don’t have any business being there anyways.”

    L.A., L.V., S.F., NYC are the only places I frequently need to be & TMo works fine for me ;)

  • chris125

    Coverage is everything and hope with the metro merger they can expand and not just on large cities

  • JoshGroff

    With their WiFi calling feature, as long as you have a WiFi signal, you can make calls, pretty convenient and can counter the building penetration problem for some people.

  • Austin Warren

    Can’t wait. Love the fact that I can pick up an S4 and when the Note 3 is out, easily switch to it.

  • skinja

    Tmob’s frequencies don’t penetrate. So even though Tmob has a nice map, you are much more likely to lose signal strength indoors while on TMob.

    Can someone who knows how to articulate the details please chime in on the signal penetration?

    • skinja

      In other words, there are more factors than just coverage maps.

      CDMA can also talk to more than one tower at once. This gives you larger tower overlap areas and less dropped calls.

      Noone ever talks about how CDMA uses less channel width than GSM or that CDMA can utilize multiple towers at once. This makes CDMA has a stronger signal even if the towers and locations are equal.

      More to it than just the number of towers/antennas.

      • kkloster

        but even modern (3G) GSM uses CDMA technology. its just called WCDMA now.

  • RickyBobby

    I’d jump TODAY if their network could hold a candle to VZW’s. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Not even close. Yet. I’m sure pulling for them though!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10602828 Mike Hilal

    If they can get the coverage issue solved, it will put pressure on ATT and VZW to go back to unlimited plans. They did the exact same thing a few years back when 3G came out and it worked.

  • skinja

    Kellex,

    Can you talk about the more technical reasons why TMob’s network is lacking. Specifically because of the frequencies they use. The spectrum they have doesnt penetrate well. So people cannot make calls inside of a home, much less inside the thicker walls of an office building or most businesses.

    Maybe you could go into a little bit of details about the chunks of spectrum Tmob uses and the drawbacks it has.

    Thanks

    • Austin Warren

      Every one of my friends can use it in their homes, and as well as at the college. The college has thick walls, so that says alot.

      • Joey

        You say a lot

        • Austin Warren

          You suck a lot.

          • Joey

            Let’s say if we were to quantify how much one ‘sucks’ by some commonly accepted value such as down votes. Well then I would suck significantly less than….you :-) Have a good one.

          • Austin Warren

            Nobody cares about down votes.

          • Joey

            Then why do they have them? Did you poll everyone ever to see if they cared? A more plausible scenario is that those who receive down votes try to not care about votes.

          • Austin Warren

            Look how much votes I have and how much you don’t have.

            Also, there’s plenty of people who down vote to down vote. The consensus is, nobody gives a fuc* about them. You’ll learn that some day.

    • PopeFrancis

      I switched to T-Mo a few months ago and I have had no issues inside buildings yet. Not to say people don’t have these issues but I have yet to encounter them. I live in the Seattle area and service has been pretty damn good so far :)

    • cb2000a

      Wifi calling…best reception in a home you can get.

  • Kenny Larson

    I completely agree. I managed to squeak in (barely) on to ST running over ATT towers before they stopped selling ATT SIMs. T-mo needs to have better coverage in Oregon than I-5, I-84 and Bend. T-mobile needs to focus more getting better coverage.

    • zwade

      My wife and I barely made it on ATT ST ourselves. My friends were skeptical at first but after seeing our happiness and success on it, it’s too late for them and they refuse to pay $60+ for the SIMs (even though they pay for themselves after a month).

  • GTIguy

    If T-Mobile currently had the same coverage as Verizon does anyone think they would be trying to kill contracts and subsidies because I don’t. I think they would be in line with the rest trying to screw every penny out of their subscribers.

    • skinja

      I don’t think it is just about coverage maps though. All spectrum chunks are not equal. As far as I have read, the spectrum TMob uses does not penetrate well. So if you are indoors your service goes to almost zero even if you are right near a tower.

      This has been a well known issue to Tmob. And the people at their stores can even tell you about it.

  • http://twitter.com/ADomeApart Robert Goulet

    I’ll make it simple…I’m with Verizon so long as I have unlimited data. My contract expires at the end of the year, and then who knows when they’re going to pull the unlimited data rug out from all of us on month-to-month deals. Once they do that, it’ll be time to simply decide between unlimited data and better coverage…and the way I use my phone unlimited data will likely win.

  • Detonation

    The thing about these plans is that you’re basically still in a “contract” but this time to pay for the phone. Before, you got a subsidized phone on a 2 year contract and paid an ETF if you left early. Now there is no long term contract but you still have to pay for the phone if you leave, which is roughly the same total as the subsidy + ETF cost before.

    These plans work well if you’ve already got a phone, but if you’re buying a new one, either way you’re paying around full retail for a phone if you want to leave the network early – not very “uncarrier”. And with the current model, you at least don’t have to pay for the full phone if you do stick around for 2 years.

    • JoshGroff

      You paid for it either way, their classic (subsidized) plans were around 15-20 more than their value plans which were contract and upgrade free IIRC. What they did here was just make their value plans their only plans.

      • Detonation

        I agree with you on that. Where your money is going is much more transparent now.

    • moelsen8

      you’re always going to be paying for the phones. at least now they’re describing the situation accurately. if you don’t need a phone, or are done paying for the phone, then all you’re paying for is service. that’s huge.

      with the current model – the price of the phone is rolled into the monthly service costs. so, you are paying for it either way. the carriers aren’t just handing over dirt-cheap flagship devices.

      • JoshGroff

        And with T-Mobile at least if you BYOD, you save the difference.

    • PopeFrancis

      Or if you are one of those who buy a phone and keep it for much longer than the 2 years it takes to pay it off. I know quite a few people who don’t replace their phones until the things puke on them.

    • Fattie McDoogles

      The difference between what T-Mobile is doing and other carriers is, say the HTC One comes out next week. You can buy it at the “down payment” of $99. When the S4 comes out May 1, you can pay off your HTC One and then go ahead and buy the S4 at the “down payment” price. You can’t do that when you’re locked in a contract.

      • Detonation

        But paying off the HTC One in full before you start payments on the S4 is basically going to cost you the same amount of money upfront as just buying the S4 at full price.

        • Fattie McDoogles

          But that’s the point. You pay full retail… you always do, or with the Verizon & AT&T you pay more over the course of your contract. But with T-Mobile you can pay it as your leisure. And you can upgrade at your leisure without the pressure of having to pay full price for a phone all upfront.

        • JoshGroff

          You could sell the one to cover most of the cost if you’re selling it that close to release.

    • Shawn Bicknell

      What would you expect? Of course they’re going to want you to finish paying off the phone if you leave. They’re not going to let you make one months payment on a phone just to have you jump ship and be able to keep the phone. It does allow you to finance the phone for 0% for as long as you’re a customer and only pay it in full if you leave early. If you stay and end up paying off the phone, you stop paying, unlike current contracts. Also there is no ‘early termination fee’ of $200-300. You leave when you want.

      • Detonation

        Well having to pay off the rest of your phone if you leave is now the “ETF”. But I do get your point that once it’s paid for, your monthly bill goes down (and I would hope it’s then lower than the cost of the same plan compared to other carriers). Thought with T-Mobile, you’re getting what you pay for.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1612587306 Bob Falfa

      You’re paying for the phone regardless of the carrier you’re on. They just don’t include it in the monthly breakdown. It’s “baked” in to the price of the plan so to say.

  • http://www.getintonursing.com/ Jon

    I totally disagree with your sentiment in this article. My whole family switched away from Verizon 3 months ago because it was too damn expensive. It came to the point that we did not see value in paying so high of a cost even for great cell coverage. We were all willing to pay way less, and still get decent coverage in Los Angeles.

    Now no…in no way is T-Mobile as good as Verizon in LA. T-Mobile is very reliable for voice and text all over town, but data speeds can get really slow in some areas or inside huge buildings. Verizon didn’t have that problem. But when it comes down to it, T-Mobile gives way better bang for the buck.

    We still get reliable service 95% of the time we used to on Verizon…and yet we cut our phone bills from $75 / line down to about $30 – $50 / line.

    Not being locked to a carrier is huge!!! It’s a liberating feeling. I feel like I’m in control. If T-Mobile pisses me off…we can leave. And theres a big difference in the psychy of a consumer who is bound to a network by contract, vs being bound to a network by free will and choice.

    T-Mobile also has the best choice in phones. By a country mile. They have the GS3, GS4, iPhone 5, Note II, HTC One, the new Blackberry, the Nexus 4….they literally have something for everyone.

    I love what T-Mobile is doing…they have won me and my entire family over for the time being. Can’t wait to get 4G LTE in Los Angeles in the next 6-12 months (presumably).

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dominick-White/642535026 Dominick White

      That’s because you live in a major city,I wonder if you would feel the same way if you live in one of smaller cities around you or lived anywhere in upstate NY. Where the only major cities that get some what okay coverage is Syracuse or Rochester

      • http://www.getintonursing.com/ Jon

        Of course not. In fact I’ve driven an hour north of Los Angeles area into the boonies and coverage sucked. But I do that like twice a year. The rest of the time I’m in a major metropolitan area and T-Mobile is great.

        Of course T-Mobile just won’t work for everybody…but for a hell of a lot of people, their new plans and pricing are just too good to pass up on and not at least give it a try. Worst case, you sell your phone on swappa.com or switch to AT&T where the phones are compatible still.

        • Redsun

          Then it’s a plan. All of you city people band together and switch to T-mob, pressuring the rest of the players to drop prices, benefiting your more rural brethren.

          Come on now, we’d do the same for you :)

  • Taylor Wimberly

    T-Mobile’s network and coverage will get much better after the MetroPCS merger is approved. That was part of today’s presentation.

    • Kenny Larson

      However, there is a huge difference in “is” and “will be”. Until the merger fixes the issue, the lack of coverage will be a huge deterrent to many.

    • Dan

      Unfortunately they both have a 20ish mile hole where my house is. Roaming onto ATT for t-mobile is fine for voice, but data is severely capped. I just need them to add one more tower at the right location then I’d be set :)

  • Joe

    in regards to the S4 event. i had terrible service on VZW. i think that was just due to everyone trying use their phones in such a small area.

    • NexusPhan69

      That’s what always happens in times square. It’s a daily problem and gets far worse on big events. New years eve was impossible to hold a (Verizon) data connection in times square.

      • http://www.getintonursing.com/ Jon

        That’s kind of a given. There are probably hundreds of thousands of people there…no cell network will survive that kind of onslaught. And if it does, then kudos, but that sort of thing surely can’t be expected.

    • drathos

      I have terrible coverage with VZW near the Verizon Center in DC, even when there isn’t an event. :p

  • Roy Harper

    No no, I have to disagree. Tmobile could try to compete with VZW or AT&T on coverage, but it would take years and tons of money to even come close. Then they’d have to charge more because of diminishing returns. Instead, Tmobile is carving out a niche that many people will be unable to find useful, but many others will. That is a good strategy, I think

  • EC8CH

    “I even despise the recent approaches by Verizon and AT&T to essentially scam consumers into overpriced shared data plans while selling them on unlimited text and calling features that they don’t need anymore.”

    GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

  • http://twitter.com/wade_county John P

    For the most part, T-Mobile is great if you live or travel to a major metropolitan area.

  • http://www.kovdev.com/ kover

    You hit the nail on the head. T-Mobile’s approach is great, and something we sorely need, but their coverage is spotty at best. If they can ever catch up to Verizon in coverage, I’m sure they’ll find there’s a lot of us willing to become their customers.

    I already tried once and they’ve still got two more attempts from me before I write them off. I’ll just wait a bit to see how their network fleshes out.

  • TheOtherJames

    I think T-Mobile’s plan is smart. They’re not going to spend a lot of money on diminishing returns for coverage. If they don’t cover 90% of the geographical United States, but do cover 90% of the people, they don’t need to do more. It gives them the reach of a national carrier with the costs of a regional carrier. If being urban-focused keeps their costs down while still giving them a near-universal customer base, then it’s a win for them.

    Now, if they have problems in the regions they do cover, then of course they need to improve that. But so does every carrier. Remember that quality of coverage is not universal across any network. Sprint’s quality in this area is so bad that they couldn’t possibly stay in business if it was the same everywhere. And likewise with T-Mobile, the quality may not be good where you are, but it’s quite good where I am.

    For my part, I know that if I’m traveling long distances or away from cities I will get only 2G service at best, and no service is bound to happen. But for $30 a month, I’m OK with that.

    • Captain_Doug

      I travel a lot as well and as long as I can make a call or get a text, that’s all I need when I’m driving down the interstate. Having 3G or 4G is unnecessary on the road when you think about how much it costs that carrier and therefore you. I’d much rather preload any videos or music before a trip and save that money I’d spend on my phone bill.

    • TheOtherJames

      And remember, if you BYOD, if you really need coverage on the road you can cancel your T-Mobile service for your trip and pop in a pre-paid card that uses AT&T’s network.

      • ThePrufessa

        You don’t have to cancel your T-Mobile service you can just simply pop in the at&t chip while your T-Mobile service is still active.

    • http://www.getintonursing.com/ Jon

      Totally agree. The yjust need to cover the population centers. Screw everything else in between. (This coming from a guy in Los Angeles).

  • moelsen8

    i love the idea of calling subsidies what they really are – financing the phone. the other great part of this, is when you’re done paying off the phone, your total monthly bill actually goes down. wait for that to happen at big red (you’ll be waiting a while). that’s the way it should work, so i think it’s awesome that someone is finally telling it like it is and making these kinds of changes. i was surprised at how many blogs hinted that paying off the phone in monthly installments was some sort of trickery on t-mobile’s part. if anything, it’s honesty that’s unheard of.

    that said, i really, really want to root for t-mobile and use their service, but their coverage sucks outside of major cities and highways. it’s sad.. they’re by far the least evil carrier.

    • Dan

      Not only that it is an interest free loan for the phone. It’s not a “monthly fee” as noted in the article. Oh, and at least could you crop the coverage map images so they show the same area. Thanks.

      • TheOtherJames

        Exactly. Try getting 0% financing for anything, especially with being able to get back a fair-market-value credit on termination.

      • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

        Call it a fee or a payment on a loan, you are still paying extra for it.

        • moelsen8

          it’s just breaking the total monthly pricing we’re all used to down into its core parts, and then one of those parts drops off completely when you’d reasonably expect it to. i think it’s awesome.

          edit: and if you don’t need a phone from them, your bill is just for the service. bonus.

          • George264

            Exactly. Putting an unlocked phone on AT&T, you’re still paying the subsidies, for absolutely nothing. You paid full for your phone, yet you’re still paying the same price as someone who got the phone for hundreds of dollars less, what’s the point? 70$ is honestly freaking amazing for unlimted talk, text, and 4G LTE. I live in NYC, so as soon as my contract ends with Verizon, I’m packing up and moving to T-Mobile.

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          • ThePrufessa

            Not true. If you take an unlocked phone to AT&T there is NOTHING TO SUBSIDIZE! you already have a phone so what exactly are they subsidizing?! And you don’t have to sign Contract either! The same with sprint the only difference with them is you need to find another sprint phone with a clean esn to bring with sprint. So the phone isn’t technically unlocked but you’ll still have contract free Sprint service.

        • Austin Warren

          You aren’t paying extra for the phone. In the end, it’s cheaper.

        • Fattie McDoogles

          How do you figure? It’s the same as paying full retail for the phone. You’re just financing the phone thru the carrier instead of your credit card company or saving up for it.

          • [email protected]

            20 months (2gigs data) with an S3 on Verizon will cost you $2,200.

            20 months (2.5gigs data) with an S3 on Tmo will cost you $1,800 (contract free)

            20 months (3gigs, no messaging, use google voice) with an s3 on Att will cost you $1,800

            20 months on sprint unlimited I believe would be $1,800 too

          • [email protected]

            this incudes the cost of phone on each

          • Immolate

            Wow. You can save $400 a year by putting retreads on your race car. Who knew?

          • ThePrufessa

            Wrong. Totally wrong. You can go to T-Mobile and they’ll break down how much it’ll cost between all for carriers for you over a 2 year service contract.

          • ThePrufessa

            These people are retarded.

        • tyguy829

          Imagine verizon giving you $20 or so off your bill each month if you activate your own device, or after “paying off” your subsidy. That’s what T-mobile is doing

          • Redsun

            Imagine is right, because it wouldn’t happen unless T-mobile pressures the market, which won’t happen w/o better coverage.

          • Granted

            If I am going to imagine anything, it is Verizon taking that hypothetical $20 you spoke of. And figuring out some asinine way to turn it into a new $20 fee that they are now going to charge you. Seeing as they now have the “early upgrade fee” and the “UPGRADE fee”, hmmmm….., maybe they could charge you an additional $20 now, if your first name begins with a letter, and ends with another letter of the English alphabet. Yes, this sounds wholly reasonable, and par for course for good ol’ Whorerizon.

          • Stu Lu

            What loser keeps their phone for more than 2 years?

          • ThePrufessa

            t-mobile is not giving you $20 off of your bill. your phone bill and your phone payments are completely separate. if you bring your own phone you won’t have to pay for a phone with t-mobile, but your monthly bill will still be the same amount. it’s really not that hard to understand. if you pay for the phone in full instead of opting to make the monthly payments you’ll still have the $70 bill. they’re not giving you $20 off of anything.

        • dsass600

          You should hire @moelsen8:disqus lol. He always has great commentary on your articles.

        • michael arazan

          After my contract was up on My D1, my first Verizon phone that I switch from T-mo for, My monthly bill did not go down, I waited 3 months before getting my GNex and the price never changed while I was researching phones to find the best one for me waiting for phones to come out. When my contract is up again in december I’ll see if the amount stays the same or goes down, I’ll assume already stays the same.

        • ThePrufessa

          no you’re not. it’s interest free. you’re paying for the phone in full through interest free, monthly installments. the monthly installments can be as big as you want but they have to be a minimum of $20. you’re not paying extra for anything.

      • ThePrufessa

        what do you mean it’s not a monthly fee? you pay $20/month to pay off the phone. that’s called a MONTHLY FEE! and you can also pay more than $20/month if you want to in order to pay the phone off faster. and you can make a bigger down payment than $100 as well.

        • Dan

          Seriously, have you ever heard of “loan payment”?

          • ThePrufessa

            Um yea. You can go get a pay day LOAN and they charge you a ridiculous interest rate to borrow money. If you were to get a loan from them in the amount of a new cell phone the interest would be through the roof. If you don’t pay the entire loan back, with interest, all at once then they become LOAN PAYMENTS to pay them back.

            Furthermore, I borrowed money from my job about 7 years ago in the amount of $3500. I paid them back on a biweekly schedule straight out of my paycheck. What exactly would YOU call that if it’s not a loan payment like you suggest?!

            And finally, who called it a loan payment anyways? Not me. I said you post a MONTHLY FEE on the phone. You put a minimum $100 down on a phone that costs $550 then you psy the rest off on a MONTHLY BASIS! Hence the term MONTHLY FEE!

            Clearly you’re just a little kid that has no idea what you’re talking about.

    • crankerchick

      You do realize that your monthly bill only “goes down” because you finished paying for the phone, right? Yes, on the other carriers, you keep paying the contract price whereas on T-Mo you don’t, but let’s not confuse people that their service price is going down, because it’s not. You just aren’t paying for the phone anymore.

      • moelsen8

        yes, that was the point that i was making by saying “total monthly bill”.

        • crankerchick

          Ok just making sure. I keep seeing this stated today in varying ways and there are people that actually believe their “service” is cheaper.

    • http://www.getintonursing.com/ Jon

      And this is only new in the US. T-Mobile is basically using the European model. Plans are seperate from phones…and no subsidies.

      Now the US govt needs to grow a pair, and force all the carriers to only sell phones that work on ALL LTE frequencies for any and all carriers in the US. That way, you can purchase a phone and it will work on any and all carriers.

      Such a move would really open up the competitive landscape in phone hardware, and between carriers data and cell service.

      • Immolate

        Your vision of the role of government and mine are profoundly different.

        • http://www.getintonursing.com/ Jon

          Maybe not as much as you think. Im just very aware that too often the argument for no / small govt is made by surrogates of huge corporations who would love to have free reign to do whatever theg want, even if the good of the public be dammned.

          Focusing the conversation on role of govt specifically in the wirelless industry…the lack of govt involvement has allowed for US carriers to double charge US citizens for phone calls and text on mobile devices. In Europe, only the caller/sender pays for mobile minutes or text, just like landlines here in the US. We instead pay to both send and receive text…which is a double payment as only the sender should pay for a call or text.

          Also all of Europe uses thd single GSM standard which has given consumers the benefit of broader competition between carriers competing to provide service as no one is locked in to contracts or hardware that keeps them from migrating to a competitor.

          Govt does have a role in promoting smart policies that ensure robust competition and encourages innovation.

          • ThePrufessa

            If calls and texts are unlimited then how exactly are we paying twice to send and receive Call or text?! Basically all we’re paying for note is your data usage. They don’t care about calls and texts.

      • ThePrufessa

        A cell phone carrier should not be forced to use the same signal as everyone else. If they use a different signal then that’s their choice to deal with how the consumer reacts.

        And furthermore, every carrier IS switching to LTE already so what’s the point of forcing them to switch? Spring ditched wimax for lte, T-Mobile is launching their Lee lte and Verizon and at&t are already lte. So what would be the point of the government sticking their nose in?!

    • PopeFrancis

      It is simple math really… How much does a GS3 cost the customer on Verizon if they don’t replace their phone for 4 years?

    • dsass600

      @kellex:disqus Hire this guy right now.

    • http://www.alpinezone.com/ Nick Reuter

      I would switch to T-mobile in a hearbeat if the coverage were close to Verizon.

      It’s kind of ridiculous actually The biggest cash cows for Verizon AT&T are the customers whose run up their 2 year contract and do NOT get a new phone but keep paying their bill with no new phone subsidy.

  • r0lct

    I would think it’s a partial chicken/egg. TMo needs more subscribers to speed up their build out plans. Of course without the build-out they can’t get the huge subscriber growth.

    However with cheap enough monthly prices they’ll get people to move and try it and hopefully that’ll be a catalyst for them to grow both in terms of customers and coverage.

    • moelsen8

      don’t forget the almighty iphone. that should help sustain them, at least.

  • http://www.facebook.com/smero Dave Smero

    I bet this will change when Verizon starts auditing those with outdated/ineligible corporate discounts.

    • http://www.droid-life.com Kellex B

      Hah it very well could. :P

    • Dan

      I’ll have to switch off my old companies 20% discount to my new companies 18% discount ;(

  • Guest

    I bet this will change when Verizon starts audting those with outdated/ineligible corporate discounts.