While T-Mobile may be in the process of acquiring MetroPCS, they aren’t waiting to get hold of the brand. In fact, if Go Smart is successful, MetroPCS may not be worth much more than spectrum.
The idea behind Go Smart is pretty simple. While T-Mobile has succeded pretty well in the pay as you go prepaid wireless market, investors and carriers alike care much more about monthly prepaid.
And there, T-Mobile has failed. The why is pretty simple, T-Mobile never executed properly amid poor management, and hopes/dreams plus words/speeches regarding new-math-style hybrid plans. In the end, consumers were confused, angry about metered data, and simply walked away from T-Mobile.
With AT&T well in the rear view mirror, T-Mobile is starting to realize how it
can has to be a key differentiator. First came the return of unlimited-and-unthrottled data, now budget plans to compete with the likes of Sprint Prepaid Groups’s Boost and Virgin Mobile.
In terms of brand execution, Sprint first rolled out Boost and Virgin Mobile (though second party deals and acquisitions), and is now building out its own brand’s prepaid with Sprint As You Go. T-Mobile already has T-Mobile Prepaid pretty well articulated in pay go, so Go Smart is aimed purely as a monthly prepaid play.
Go Smart’s plans very closely mirror the vanguard of Simple Mobile, the T-Mobile MVNO recently acquired by TracFone. There are three plans:
- $30/month, unlimited talk and text messaging, no data
- $35/month unlimited talk and text messaging, plus unlimited data (more on that in a minute)
- $45/month unlimited talk, text, and 5 GB of high speed data, plus unlimited data afterwards
T-Mobile’s language there changed a bit. The tiered “2G” speed unlimited data became just “unlimited data” with “high speed” data being the alternative. However, when you ping T-Mobile for details, they describe the unlimited data as “Web speeds appropriate for web browsing, email, and social networking.”
That may be debatable. Users on T-Mobile’s 2G regime report routinely that they get speeds as low as 64 kbps, and as high as 230 kbps. Still, $45/month for 5 GB of high speed data, and unlimited talk/text is the lowest “unlimited plan” price-point we’ve seen from T-Mobile for a single-line plan. The only more premium plan in prepaid would be T-Mobile and Sprint’s truly unlimited-everything plans, which lack a hard cap on 4G data.
In the race for budget prepaid unlimited plans, T-Mobile is getting back in the hot seat. But, Straight Talk and others may be more flexible on their caps, which may mean users intent on getting the most data in the sub-$50 unlimited market, may want to stick with TracFone’s MVNO offerings. It’s likely Straight Talk will answer the call there by increasing their “unlimited” data allotments, up to the break-even point.