As expected, T-Mobile today took the wraps off of their LTE network and new no-contract pricing, even though most of the details were already leaked yesterday
. At an event in New York City, T-Mobile formally announced that their shiny new LTE network has gone live in Baltimore; Houston; Kansas City; Las Vegas; Phoenix; San Jose, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. The company has stated that they hope to cover 100 million potential customers by the middle of 2013, with 200 million potential customers covered by the end of this year.
T-Mobile has also officially announced that they're killing off contract plans. As discussed yesterday
, the company's new base pricing offers users an new unlimited talk, text, and 500MB of data for $50 a month. An additional $20 nets users unlimited data, or users who want to use their phone as a mobile hotspot or modem can add $10 for every extra 2 GB of data.
In addition to the already available BlackBerry Z10 and Galaxy Note II, T-Mobile today announced that they'll be offering the Galaxy S4 starting on May 1. They'll also begin offering the iPhone 5 starting on April 12
, if users are willing to pay $100 down and an additional $20 per month for 24 months. Important note: you can't unlock any device under these plans until the device is paid off.
It remains painfully unclear if United States consumers are ready for the death of the subsidy. Unsubsidized devices have not been selling well at Leap
, though customers there need to pay the entire device cost up front. T-Mobile's approach may be more successful, given users may pay for for the device, but wind up paying less for data and services.
Regardless, the moves collectively are part of what T-Mobile is calling its "uncarrier" strategy. Like subsidies, it's more than a little unclear if T-Mobile's moves are going to strengthen its competitive position in a sector dominated by AT&T and Verizon, with Sprint and its Japanese sugar daddy soon forging a trifecta of dominance and regulatory capture
"These bold moves serve notice that T-Mobile is canceling its membership in the out-of-touch wireless club," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. "This is an industry filled with ridiculously confusing contracts, limits on how much data you can use or when you can upgrade, and monthly bills that make little sense. As America’s Un-carrier, we are changing all of that and bringing common sense to wireless."
During today's presentation, T-Mobile took repeated aim at AT&T, saying users on T-Mobile's plans can save up to $1,000 annually over AT&T, Legere even going so far as to label AT&T as "vaguely sinister."
That's quite a contrast from one year ago, when T-Mobile was gleefully cheerleading their acquisition by AT&T, including the false claim that killing off T-Mobile would magically improve competition, create jobs, and provide the world with free puppies
. Granted the regulatory blockade of the deal wound up being a good thing for T-Mobile, since the break up fee netted them $4 billion in roaming agreements and spectrum sharing that helped make today's announcement possible.