Humberto Saabedra is the Editor-in-Chief of and an occasional columnist for He can also be found musing on things at @AnimeNewsdotbiz

15 responses to “T-Mobile Launching New Prepaid, Mobile Broadband Options on May 16th”

  1. SaltyDawg

    These plans look pretty good. It would be cool if they had some data included in that text plan though. Also, that mobile broadband by the hour should also have an option to pay like $5 for the day.

  2. Christopher Price

    The problem is getting too cost effective. $5/day would allow people to rely on Wi-Fi and use mobile broadband while traveling exclusively. It’s a delicate dance to push people back into that $40/month postpay aircard plan or $20/month data add-on.

    Of course, the other argument is that you can get an older EV-DO Rev A smartphone phone (pre-BB Storm) on Verizon and go $1/day with any postpay voice plan. At $30 for the basic voice plan, that can wind up being cheaper if you use more than 31 hours per month.

    Personally, I think it’s a smart move. There are devices like the MyTouch 3G and Nokia N900 that T-Mobile has exclusives on, and are getting attractive in flat-rate pricing. Combining HSPA+ with the N900 and relying on Wi-Fi most of the time would be a compelling offering, especially with free Ovi Maps or Google Maps Navigation at a per-hour data rate.

    For casual users, this is probably the best prepaid data option in America today.

    P.S. The tech savvy win here too. For example, you can get a Nokia N900 and enjoy MeeGo with data from, say, a Palm Pre Plus & Mobile Hotspot most of the time, but if your battery runs out in a pinch, you have the N900’s own data access to fall back on. Now your backup phone even has full data access on the cheap.

  3. SaltyDawg

    Can you activate a smartphone on Verizon’s prepaid? I was under the impression that they won’t activate smartphones on the prepaid plans.

    Verizon has prepaid mobile broadband plans, but the data limits are ridiculously low. They have the daily plan for $15, but it has a 75 meg limit.

    If T-Mobile came in with a daily option for $5 or $10, it would look a lot better than Verizon’s offering.

    Do these T-Mobile plans work on phones too though or only data cards? For example, if you get a MyTouch on the prepaid plan, is there an option to have data on it? Or do you have to get a seperate data card and put it on the hourly prepaid plan?

    I like where they’re going, but they still have a little ways to go. They need to offer prepaid phone plans that include data, like Verizon, only cheaper. And they need to offer prepaid data card plans that let you go by the day/week/month, like Verizon, only cheaper.

    The hourly option is pretty cool though. Now they need a prepaid MyFi device with HSPA+ and a built in digital timer, lol.

  4. Christopher Price

    You can’t activate a smartphone directly on Verizon prepaid (though you can on other services like Page Plus).

    However, smartphones before the BB Storm can be activated on Verizon’s $29.99 voice plan, and then you can activate the $30/month smartphone plan on a per-day basis. So, if you only need it once or twice a week, you can add and remove it on a per-day basis.

    It all boils down to what you want. if you want a couple hundred voice minutes per month… Verizon is better even though it’s postpay, because you can use data with older EV-DO Rev A smartphones on an on-demand basis. If you aren’t going to use a couple hundred minutes per month, T-Mobile is cheaper.

    And, if you want unlimited voice, T-Mobile is still very overpriced. $50 for voice and text only is very overpriced compared to Boost’s $50/month for unlimited talk and text plus EVDO Rev A data. Even with their smartphone plan at $60/month, most people will still find Sprint’s Boost cheaper.

    Using 1 MB of push notifications hourly for 30 days straight will still run you $736.56 on T-Mobile prepaid ($.99 x 24 hours x 30 days). Like I said, it fills a niche or two, and that’s a positive step, but this won’t be a game changer.

    Oh, and there are a few phones that can be used to sling Wi-FI on T-Mobile 3G. The Nokia N900 probably stands out as the best. But, the Touch HD2 and MyTouch 3G can with varying efforts as well.

  5. SaltyDawg

    Oh I know there are plenty of phones that can sling data over WiFi on T-Mobile, but I was thinking that new data option was only for mobile broadband cards and not phones. I guess it is for phones too?

    If it is for phones, then that is a pretty horrible plan. It should be $1 for the whole day, unlimited data, like it is on Verizon’s prepaid phone plans.

    They should just have something like the Sidekick prepaid plan for all phones- $1 per day, only billed on days you use it, and you get unlimited messaging and data, plus minutes billed per use. And if they really wanted to have a good deal, they could cap the charge for voice minutes at $2 per day, with the rest of the day being free.

    So charge $1 for the messaging and data, and voice is .10 per minute or whatever, up to $2, for a total of $3 per day.

    Cricket prepay has 3 options. For $1 per day (only billed when you use it) you get unlimited talk, and unlimited incoming text and MMS. Outgoing text and MMS are .10 each, and unlimited data is .25 per day. For $2 per day, you get unlimited talk and unlimited messages, with unlimited data being an extra .25 per day. Or for $3 per day, you get unlimited talk, messaging, data, and 411 calls.

    If Cricket is giving unlimited EVDO data on prepaid plans for only .25 per day, and only billed on days you use it, (and Verizon only charging .99 per day on days you use it) then I think T-Mobile charging .99 per hour is a bit much.

  6. Christopher Price

    The prepaid data plan appears to be for phones only. I suspect the WAP browser loads a portal page that you must accept in order for billing to continue.

    It’s possible they will roll this same pricing out to mobile broadband cards, but T-Mobile runs a high risk of losing some big corporate accounts if they do that.

    And, therein lies the reason why mobile broadband card pricing is so outrageous in most cases on prepaid. Virgin Mobile still holds the cheapest rates, because first-party offers must always be inferior enough to ensure IT departments recommend fleet purchases of postpay unlimited accounts.

    Cricket doesn’t factor into the situation much because they’re regional. They’re more of a price taker in this situation. If you’re in the Cricket area, it’s clearly a winner. Corporate buyers have to assume that they aren’t in the Cricket coverage area in most cases.

    The Sidekick Data Plan (being activated for other devices) died for this very reason. Too many people figured out they could drop the SIM in an HSPA+ broadband card and get $30/month unlimited data. If it undercuts a postpay broadband card, it won’t fly on a first-party offering. That won’t change until 4G is pervasive nationwide.

  7. SaltyDawg

    Cricket isn’t regional anymore, they’re nationwide now, using the Sprint network (at least for voice). There are still a few places that they won’t let you sign up if you live in that zip code, but most of the nation is covered now.

    I’m pretty sure their data coverage is on par with T-Mobile’s (covering most cities with 3G). T-Mobile still has better speeds though. But still, Cricket charges .25 per day (only billed on days you use it), T-Mobile charges .99 per hour.

    Even forgetting about Cricket though, Verizon charges .99 per day for data on their prepaid plans too (only billed on days you use data).

    I just can’t see T-Mobile competing with prices so much higher than the competition. With Cricket at .25 per day, and Verizon at .99 per day, I would think T-Mobile should fit right in at .50 per day or so for unlimited data, only billed on days you use it. Or heck, just include data for no extra charge in that $15 per month plan with the messaging. Yeah, it’s cheaper than the monthly rate, but it costs a lot more as soon as you start talking on the phone.

    Oh well. T-Mobile prepaid was a nice thought but I can see now that it’s not ready to be considered yet.

  8. Christopher Price

    Same with most of California. If you aren’t selling in most of the largest state population-wise, you’re still a regional carrier, unfortunately.

    While I said Cricket and MetroPCS are price-takers in the first-party market, I did want to clarify that they have sent shockwaves through the industry nevertheless. They have forced second-party offerings like Boost Mobile and GoPhone to drop pricing dramatically.

    And, that has required first party Tier 1 carrier plans in turn to answer with adding more features (Mobile Hotspot, Everything Plans, etc).

    So, I would argue that Cricket and MetroPCS have collective price maker power, even if each of them on their own is still a price taker in that they simply fix their prices below the mainstream carriers.

  9. SaltyDawg

    I don’t know why they won’t let you sign up for Cricket in Dallas, that’s weird. If you look at their coverage map, the entire Dallas/Fort Worth metro area is blanketed with native coverage.

    I’m sure you could order it from a 3rd party retailer, either in person or online, and it would work just fine. I have no idea why the Cricket website won’t let you sign up if you live in Dallas though, even though the area is blanketed with native coverage. That’s pretty weird.

  10. Christopher Price

    The “native” coverage maps of Cricket and MetroPCS now include roaming. This is because roaming is billed as free on both carriers in order to give the appearance of nationwide coverage.

    That would be a losing proposition if they sold service to you in a market that they didn’t have any native coverage. They want you using native/home network coverage where you live, and only roam when you travel. As such, they won’t sell you a phone in a market where they don’t own the towers.

    These Tier 2 carriers are really operating this point as a hybrid of a native carrier and as an MVNO of the other carriers, benefiting from their own collective power. They can now buy roaming rates at the same amount as carriers like Page Plus, but profit more because they are primarily selling service on their home network.

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  13. lilkunta

    What is the mobile broadband cost? Crickets is $40/month. If you dont want it just dont pay that month, no hassle. Will tmobile be lower?

    Virgin’s mobile prices are these, which I think are NOT cost effective.
    from virginmobileusa website :
    $10- 10days- 100mb- 5hrs inet OR 25minvideo OR 10,000 emails
    $20- 30days- 300mb- 15hrs inet OR 1hr vid OR25,00k emails
    $40- 30days- 1 gb – 50hrs inet OR 4hr vid OR 100,000 emails
    $60- 30days- 300mb- 250hrs inet OR 21hrs vid OR 500,00k emails

    I think the average person uses the inet for at least 30min per day. Where is this kind of plan for the 30minute user? The closest would be the$20 plan.

  14. Jim

    I am glad that they have a prepaid plan. I have been using boost for $50 a month. Their 3g is very slow in NYC and I am going to try T-mobile.