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Sprint & T-Mobile Battle on Unlimited Data

by Philip Kendall | 8月 18, 2016

T-Mobile launched Un-carrier 12 today with the company going “ALL IN on Unlimited”. It unveiled a new tariff plan, T-Mobile ONE, which will become available on 6 September and become the one plan available for postpaid users. It's built around unlimited 4G data, layered on top of other Un-carrier initiatives such as roam-like-home services in Canada and Mexico, and unlimited text and data roaming and low flat-rate calling in 140+ countries. It also comes with BingeOn as standard, extending unlimited 480p standard definition video out to ALL video sources.

T-Mobile ONE will cost $70 for the first line, $50 for the second, and $20 for further lines, so $160 for a family of four. T-Mobile notes that the vast majority of its postpaid business is on shared plans, so the higher entry-level price for an individual line is not a problem: MetroPCS will mop up demand there. Add-ons include $25 for HD video, $20 for tablets (something of a breakthrough in terms of unlimited data plans here), and $15 for 4G tethering.

Not to be outdone, Sprint rushed out its own unlimited offer as well, at $60 for one line and $100 for two. That also optimizes video at 480p, music at max 500kbps and gaming at max 2Mbps. This all follows on from AT&T re-vamping its plans to remove overage data charges, in favor of throttling, following a similar move from Verizon earlier in the month. So a busy few weeks in wireless data pricing.

T-Mobile continues to outperform the competition, as we saw in our Q2 carrier infographic earlier this week, copied below. With its postpaid phone churn now below 1.3% per month, the ONE plan further chips away at reasons for leaving the Un-carrier, while offering a good incentive for existing shared accounts, generally acquired through promotional pricing, to spend up for the advantage of unlimited data.

Competitor claims that T-Mobile ONE's value is undermined by the small print are all technically valid: traffic may be de-prioritized for the top 3% of users (currently generating 26GB/month); unlimited tethering is 2G speeds before you buy the $15 5GB add-on; video is throttled. But consumers don't care. 1% may not like the compromises (99% of BingeOn users haven't switched it off) but T-Mobile has added 7 million postpaid phone customers over the last two years in a market which grew by 6 million; it probably won't be losing too much sleep over these challenges.

2Q 2016 US Wireless Carrier Performance
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