T-Mobile woos pre-paid users with new contract-free plans

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T-Mobile—now known as the only major U.S. mobile operator without an iPhone—is spicing up its contract-free and pay-by-the-day offerings in an effort to retain customers who might be lured away to other carriers—or for whom the cost of a typical smartphone subscription service is just too spendy. T-Mobile’s new Monthly4G plan lets users have all the voice, text, and data they want in a month for $60, although T-Mobile will throttle the data is users cross a 2GB threshold. Folks who only use their phones one in a while—or, say, when travelling—might want to look at new Pay by the Day options, which offer connectivity for $1, $2, and $3 per day.

T-Mobile’s new Monthly4G offering is available for $60 per month, and offers users unlimited calling, unlimited texts, and up to 2 GB of data a month at “4G” speeds on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network. Once the 2 GB data threshold has been crossed in a particular month, T-Mobile will throttle back data to 2G speeds—enough to check your email and load a Web page, but not enough to live your entire life online. The plan joins other monthly plans that run from $15 to $70 per month; the $70/month option offers up to 5 GB of data a month at 4G speeds until throttling kicks in, while the $50/month plan only goes up to 100 MB a month before T-Mobile turns down the tap.

T-Mobile’s new Pay by the Day offerings enable users to activate phone service for just a day—which might be ideal for folks who maybe use their phone one day a week when they’re on the road, then quietly resent the device costing money while gathering dust on their desk the rest of the week. The Pay by the Day $3 play offers unlimited voice, text, and up to 200 GB of 4G data service for a 24 hour period; after 200 GM, T-Mobile drops service to 2G speeds. The $2 per day plan offers unlimited text and voice with unlimited 2G-only data, while the $1 a day plan offers unlimited texting with calling at $0.10 per minute.

To folks who live in a universe of always-on smartphones and long for the days of uncapped, unlimited data plans, T-Mobile’s new service offerings might seem like non-starters, but given the continuing economic challenges facing many U.S. residents, monthly and pay-as-you-go plans can represent a significant value.

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