T-Mobile today announced three new low-cost service plans that seem designed for people who need to make a lot of voice calls but are mostly leaning on Wi-Fi for data. They’re not unlimited, but they also start at only $15.
The new T-Mobile Connect plan was a Sprint merger-related promise that T-Mobile is accelerating. Launching Wednesday, it offers unlimited talk and text plus 2GB of data for $15/month prepaid, or 5GB of data for $30/month prepaid.
Because this is a new plan, T-Mobile’s current coronvirus pledge to give existing customers unlimited data for 60 days does not apply. But at least it’s a standard mainline T-Mobile plan, which means it has 5G, including the additional 5G that will come online as T-Mobile starts to convert Sprint’s network over this summer.
The plans compare favorably with low-cost MVNOs like Ting and US Mobile, which generally charge $20 or more per month for this level of service. You can get cheaper plans on those virtual carriers by cutting down even further on cellular data, though.
Metro by T-Mobile is also launching a 2GB, $15 plan on Wednesday, but that one is a less compelling because it will reset to $30 after two months. Further, Metro’s standalone $35 hotspot plan will be upped from 10GB to 20GB for the next 60 days.
If you’re trapped at home, these are good plans to pick, and because they’re month to month, they can be easily dropped or switched. I’m hearing from carriers that voice usage and SMS usage are up right now, but that data usage may even be down as people are relying more on their home internet connections. (I’ll do a full story on that when I have more data.)
They Already Made This Deal
The new plans aren’t surprising, they’re just appearing a bit early. The T-Mobile Connect plan was part of T-Mobile’s merger settlement with various levels of government, including the state of California. According to that settlement, T-Mobile must offer the Connect plan for the next five years, as well as extend all February 2019-era service plans for another five years.
T-Mobile’s official merger has been held up by a California state commission meeting scheduled for April 16, and by the virtual disappearance of US District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, who needs to rule on the merger for it to go through. During the COVID-19 crisis, T-Mobile has taken some other steps, which it was going to save for the merger, including activating the use of Dish’s 600MHz spectrum to speed up 4G LTE service nationwide. But it needs the merger so it can make its most dramatic network move, which would be shifting Sprint users over to the T-Mobile network and converting Sprint’s Band 41 mid-band airwaves to T-Mobile 5G.