As the tiered data options now offered by AT&T and Verizon become increasingly more complicated and nuanced, the nation’s smaller wireless carriers have recognized the growing consumer discontent and have responded in the only way left available to them, by reviving the popular unlimited plan.
While to this point Sprint was the only wireless provider among the country’s top four that still offered an unlimited data option, T-Mobile announced yesterday that it will be offering a “truly unlimited” plan as well, meaning no caps, throttled connections, or punitive data overage fees.
But even though consumers need both an accountant and mathematician by their side as they attempt to parse through the extensive list of restrictions and provisos attached to every new Verizon or AT&T contract, the question remains, are unlimited data plans enough when the device selection, network coverage, and network speed simply doesn’t compare to the Big Two?
The fact of the matter is this, with Verizon and AT&T still dominating the market, grabbing subscribers, spectrum and everything else that matters to a wireless provider like its going out of style, the lesser lights of the wireless market have little recourse, except of course to utilize the resources they already have, chief among which are their relatively unstrained networks.
With both Verizon and AT&T abandoning the popular unlimited plans in an attempt to halt the continued degradation of their respective networks, it stands as the only marketing chip both Sprint and T-Mobile hold over their larger competitors, with both hoping that a significant number of AT&T and Verizon customers will be attracted to their respective unlimited options.
For a company who sits in a very precarious position in the market, currently in a distant fourth-place among national carriers, its clear that T-Mobile needs every advantage it can get, as it has seen a steady exodus of customers of late, either moving up and locking in to long term contracts with the larger carriers, or moving down to one of the market’s more affordable prepaid options.
While it remains the only large carrier to not carry the iPhone, T-Mobile remains optimistic that customers will be attracted by the unlimited option, stating that customers are demanding unlimited options and hinting that many are more interested in data plans and network coverage than they are about particular devices.
What I do find interesting in all this though is the rhetoric regarding the capacity constraints of its network that flowed from the collective mouth of T-Mobile during AT&T’s failed bid to acquire the company, making me wonder just how T-Mobile will handle the increased data traffic. But not to worry, Harry Thomas, director of segment marketing for T-Mobile said, as T-Mobile is working hard to improve its capacity, hopefully making it the go-to choice for those looking for unlimited data options.
T-Mobile’s unlimited data plan will cost a flat $30/month when bundled with a voice and text plan, which themselves range between $49.99 and $59.99/month and will be available starting September 5th.