Leave it to T-Mobile to obliterate yet another pain point of subscription plans everywhere. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the self-proclaimed “Un-carrier” took the wraps off Un-carrier Next, a host of new benefits for longtime subscribers.
“Four years ago, we were talking about a trend in the industry,” T-Mobile chief John Legere said. “More than 70 percent of wireless customers say wireless plans are too complicated. They want simplicity.”
To that end, T-Mobile’s replacing its capped data plans with the new T-Mobile One plan it announced earlier this year. A single line starts at $70 on auto bill pay for unlimited talk, unlimited texting, and unlimited 4G LTE data. Lines for a family of four start at $40. And optional add-ons include an international calling plan for $20 per month and 4G LTE tethering (3G speeds on the standard plan) and HD videos (480p) for $15 a month more.
“The Internet was meant to be unlimited.”
As part of the One plan’s broader rollout, T-Mobile’s introducing the “One plan guarantee.” Starting on January 22, it promises not to lock in prices for new customers.
But that’s not all. The carrier’s adding a new plan benefit that refunds subscribers for the data they don’t use. It’s called KickBack, and T-Mobile says it’s the first example of a “major provider” doling out payments to subscribers who use 2GB of data or less. If you fall under a data threshold for the month and pay your bill on time, you’ll receive up to a $10 credit in the form of a bill credit. It’ll appear as a $20-per-line opt-in option in T-Mobile’s account management app in the coming weeks.
T-Mobile said it’s combating the more than $1.3 billion, and $2.4 billion, consumers pay in switching fees and overages, respectively. The firm estimates that lightly used lines can save up to $120 a month in kickbacks, and that with an extra line costing $20 on T-Mobile One, subscribers can add a line that amounts to just $10 a month after KickBack.
“The Internet wasn’t meant to be metered in bits and bytes, so it’s insane that wireless companies are still making you buy it this way. The rate plan is dead — it’s a fossil from a time when wireless was metered by every call or text,” Legere said. “The Internet was meant to be unlimited, and at T-Mobile, we believe that everyone should have unlimited mobile internet.”
T-Mobile’s working to eliminate another pain point, too: plan pricing. According to the carrier, wireless subscribers pay more than $17 billion in taxes and government fees on top of their bills for wireless cell service. Starting this month, T-Mobile’s eating the cost of those. “We’re investing in our customers,” Legere said.
The carrier’s launching promotions in the form of a “tax rebate” benefit and #FreeFace. Starting January 6, customers get $150 per line — $600 for a family of four — for every line that switches from another carrier to a T-Mobile One plan up to 12 lines. And customers who post a selfie of their reaction to their inflate wireless bill on social media will be entered into a daily #FeeFace off, with each winner walking away with prize packs including a smartphone of their choice, a free year of T-Mobile One, and a pair of Beats headphones. The grand prize is a four-night, five-day trip for two to Vegas.
Digits and the One plan are far from T-Mobile’s only recent innovations. Its Simple Global plan provides unlimited texting and data roaming in more than 140 countries, a benefit which the carrier says resulted in customers using 255 times more data internationally. Mobile Without Borders extended T-Mobile coverage benefits to parts of Mexico and Canada. T-Mobile Tuesdays introduced weekly discounts on movie tickets, ridesharing services, and more. And Binge On and Music Freedom provided access to a number of streaming video and music services that don’t count against data caps.
And in December, T-Mobile announced Digits, a new service that provides a single phone number that works across smartphones, tablets, computers, and even wearables. Subscribers can answer and place calls from the aforementioned devices, and a dedicated Digits dashboard provides access to call history, messages, and voicemail.
They come on the heel of network improvements. In December, T-Mobile announced that it covers 313 million people in the U.S. — one million shy of Verizon’s coverage — and that its current generation of cellular can now achieve a faster theoretical speed — 1Gbps — than every other major carrier in the U.S.
In terms of growth, the carrier’s on an upward trajectory. In the fourth quarter of this year, T-Mobile added 2.1 million customers and reported a best-ever churn rate of 1.28 percent. Over the course of 2016, the carrier added 8.2 million customers.