Taking the “Phone” out of “Smartphone”: T-Mobile Set to Unveil Data-Only Plans

by Matt Klassen on March 31, 2016

451677-t-mobile-genericNeed any more evidence that legacy voice communication is going the way of the Dodo bird? Rumours abound this week that T-Mobile is poised to unveil a data-only service plan, foregoing the traditional voice options and offering data only, ostensibly taking the “phone” part out of the modern smartphone.

If you’re wondering who might be interested in such a plan, well it turns out almost everybody, as even for those who still like communicating with their actual voice, VoIP options have largely taken over the voice segment, leaving traditional talking on the outs.

So for those who would rather use Skype, WhatsApp Voice, Tango or Viber to communicate, or for those who prefer simple text-based communication, T-Mobile is once again taking the industry in a new direction, acknowledging that voice isn’t what it used to be and changing things in order to provide its customers with services they actually want to use, not just the ones that carriers want to provide.

T-Mobile’s new packages look like this:

2GB for $20 per month, 6GB for $35, 10GB for $50, 14GB for $65, 18GB for $80,
22GB for $95. In addition to the monthly data allotment, data-only plans will still include unlimited texting.

Now to be fair, these data plans aren’t new, as T-Mobile has uses this exact setup for other mobile devices like tablets. The only change here is that the carrier has decided that enough people aren’t using their voice minutes that they have become an antiquated extra, something people pay for because it’s included in their bundle, not because they actually need or want to use their voice minutes.

In fact, T-Mobile CEO John Legere noted that one of the company’s most popular service plans was the one with the lowest amount of voice minutes and the highest amount of data—the company’s prepaid plan that offers 5GB of high-speed data, unlimited text, and just 100 minutes of talk for $30—and that customers were opting for that plan because they wanted to pay for the least amount of voice possible. So for those, why pay for voice at all, particularly if you don’t use it?

In another interesting announcement, T-Mobile also announced the “Wireless Customer Bill of Rights,” which lays out what T-Mobile figures should be the basic rights of anyone who pays for wireless service.

The so-called Bill of Rights includes No Service Contracts, No Overage Penalties, Love Your Phone, Keep What You Pay For (with rollover data), Stream without Fear (of using up your data allotment with streaming music or video), Roam without Fear, Coverage without Limits, and No-Haggle Business Pricing. Of course these are all things T-Mobile has rolled out with its ongoing UnCarrier initiative, and it should be noted that regulators are certainly not comfortable with all of them. But that said, customers approve, so it’ll be interesting to see how the FCC and the rest of the wireless industry respond.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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