T-Mobile has made some aggressive moves in the mobile broadband arena during 2012 with an expanded offering of prepaid mobile broadband plans, as well as their “business oriented” option to go over the data plan limit while retaining full 4G speed in exchange for paying overage fees. As the smallest of the "Big Four" providers, T-Mobile has worked hard to carve some niches in the market for wireless data access, with a huge focus on T-Mobile being almost entirely associated with 4G wireless networks.
T-Mobile’s primary selling point is the very large size of their nationwide 4G network. As of July 2012, T-Mobile 4G covers approximately 215 million Americans, which is second placed behind leader AT&T’s 250 million .T-Mobile also promotes their 4G network as being relatively fast and extremely reliable. Customer service has been a sore point for T-Mobile in 2012, with JD Power ranking T-Mobile dead last in their 2012 survey, but they promise to greatly improve their customers experience going into 2013.
T-Mobile uses HSPA+ 4G technology, which in terms of speed is faster than 3G, but slower than 4G LTE. The HSPA+ 4G used by T-Mobile has a theoretical download speed of 21 to 42 Mbps, but users can typically expect "real-world" download speeds of about 5 to 8 Mbps. Today, 4G LTE is the gold standard of 4G wireless networks, but unfortunately T-Mobile is the furthest behind Verizon, AT&T and Sprint in terms of nationwide deployment of 4G LTE. T-Mobile has committed $4 Billion to LTE upgrades to their existing HPSA+ 4G network, which customers will be able to begin using in 2013.
T-Mobile currently sells their own branded 4G mobile hotspot, the MF-61, which is manufactured by ZTE wireless. This compact mobile hotspot looks similar to a smartphone and features 4 to 5 hours of battery life, built in GPS, integrated Micro-SD memory storage, and a high contrast LCD display panel. Wi-Fi connectivity is limited to Wi-Fi “B” and “G”, and does not support the newer “N” standard. The MF-61 mobile hotspot broadcasts a powerful Wi-Fi signal with a 100 foot radius. Users may insert up to 32GB of Micro-SB memory to create a Wi-Fi accessible wireless file share. Security is equivlent to what your would expect on a home Wi-Fu router, including WPA encryption, MAC address filtering and
The T-Mobile mobile hotspot will allow up to five separate devices to share it’s 4G connection at the same time. It is perfect for enabling internet access on today’s most popular devices, including the iPad3, Kindle Fire, iPod Touch, Samsung Tablet, and of course any Laptop PC. Just about all Wi-Fi enabled devices made in the past 10 years can now experience blazing 4G speeds.
What types of data plans are available, and how much do they cost?
Classic Post-Paid (contract) T-Mobile Data Plans:
The "Classic Data Plan" grants subscribers either 2, 5, or 10 gigabytes per month of 4G data. This plan effectively give subscribers "unlimited data", with the caveat being that only the first 2 ,5 , or 10 gigabytes each month will be delivered over the fast 4G T-Mobile network. If the limit is breached within the 30 day billing cycle, data will be delivered over the slower 2G network for the balance of the billing period. There is no limit to the amount of 2G data consumed. This plan is also often referred to as the "contract plan". Actually, a 2 year contract would only be in effect if you received a subsidy on the purchase price of a mobile hotspot that was purchased. The Classic Data Plan can also be subscribed to without a contract is you own your own equipment or paid the non-subsidy (full price) for the mobile hotspot device. The classic plan is best for user who typically need wireless data access on a somewhat predictable basis each month, such as business users, students, commuters, and families who intend on sharing a single mobile hotspot.
Classic Data Plan Prices:
$40 per month for 2GB at 4G Speeds
$50 per month for 5GB at 4G Speeds
$80 per month for 10GB at 4G Speeds
* All Classic Data Plans allow unlimited data delivered over 2G networks after plan limit is reached.
Pre-Paid (no contract) T-Mobile Data Passes:
T-Mobile's option for prepaid mobile broadband data access is known as a Data Pass. Users purchase a data pass in advance which allows them 30 days to use their preset limit of data. Data will be delivered over the fastest network where the mobile hotspot is being used, with 4G being the first option, then 3G and finally 2G. Data usage counts towards the data pass limit regardless of the type of network used. The Data Pass expires when either the download limit (300MB to 5GB) is reached, or 30 days has elapsed since the first use. Data Passes do not have any option for "rollover" or continuing data use at reduced speed during the 30 day window (as the Classic Plan does). The prepaid data pass in a great option for users on a tighter budget who know they will need a certain amount of data access during a 30 day block. This might include vacationers and business travelers, and college students away during the semester.
Classic Data Plan Prices:
$15 per 300 MB used within 7 days
$25 per 1.5 GB used within 30 days
$35 per 3.5 GB used within 30 days
$50 per 5 GB used within 30 days
T-Mobile provides a mobile data calculator to help estimate monthly data needs.
Check T-Mobile network coverage here
Data Overage Policy for T-Mobile
For retail subscribers of T-Mobile "Classic" or contract monthly data plans that go over their monthly or weekly data limit, download speeds are reduced from 4G down to 2G. T-mobile does not have option for paying for overage fees to continue at 4G speeds. The reduced download speeds will be in effect until the start of the next monthly billing cycle. T-Mobile’s 2G network is based on EDGE technology and delivers download speeds on average of 150 to 250 Kbps (0.15 to .25 Mbps). In essence, post-paid subscribers have unlimited data, albeit the speed greatly slowed down when the monthly limit is reached.
Pre-Paid T-Mobile Data Passes are "reset" after 30 days or when the limit is reached. The 30 day countdown begins the moment the T-Mobile network is first accessed. Any allotted data that is not used within the 30 day window (or 7 day in the case of the 300MB plan) will expire. "Rolling Over" data from month to month is not permitted. Think of it as "use it or lose it"
New T-Mobile Policy as of July 2012:
Eligible businesses who subscribe to T-Mobile contract mobile broadband plans may elect for the option to continue past the limit of their monthly plan at full 4G speeds. Full 4G speed usage is billed at between 2 and 10 cents per megabyte. Business subscribers interested in opting for this “paid overuse fee” option should contact T-Mobile customer service for business subscribers at 1-888-537-4242.
Category: T-Mobile Wireless