Today, T-Mobile USA is kicking off its web2go initiative that add Yahoo! oneSearch to some devices, a customizable home page, a new mobile shopping and download experience (I'll cover this in a follow-up post), and higher data rate plans. The press release actually states that the data rate plans were simplified, but that makes very little sense since T-Mobile already had a very simplified data rate plan structure in place that couldn't get any simpler. I went to the T-Mobile website and saw that most plans increased in price for data services. Just over a year ago T-Mobile decreased their data plan rates and were the leader in low cost and simplified data.
Before the new plans kicked off you could have the Total Internet package (with a minimal voice plan) for US$19.99 per month that included T-Mobile HotSpot WiFi access. This plan has now been increased to match the T-Mobile G1 data plan rates so that you will pay US$24.99 per month for unlimited data and 400 text messages or US$34.99 per month for unlimited data and unlimited text messaging. In addition in looking at the new Smartphone data plans page it doesn't appear that T-Mobile HotSpot service is included anymore (I went through the ordering process for a G1 and it is NOT included) and that will run you another US$9.99 per month to add.
BlackBerry and Sidekick plans are priced similarly with some lower cost options for just email access on the BlackBerry. The Sidekick devices are optimized for text messaging so those that were used to texting like mad will see an increase from US$19.99 per month to US$34.99 per month for the same service as a MAJOR increase in price that makes the Sidekicks less attractive options.
Existing customers who subscribed to data packages may be grandfathered, but I am not sure about the T-Mobile HotSpot access and will have to swing by a Starbucks and try it out soon. I sure hope I still get HotSpot access since that was the promoted deal when we all purchased our T-Mobile G1 devices.
It does look like the stand alone internet plans remained the same so those that do not use voice with T-Mobile should remain satisfied.
While I like my T-Mobile G1 for the most part, it is more of a hobby phone and I was looking to see if it was too late to take it back (it is) since I only get 3G at work and the lack of Exchange functionality and difficulty in using the SIM in any other device is a bit frustrating. The G1 plan is specifically identified as a separate service option and I think it is provisioned differently too which really seems to lock the SIM data usage to just that device, even though the data plan rates are the same now as all T-Mobile smartphones.
T-Mobile was the leader in low cost data rates and that made it compelling for many people. However, now with their increased rates, lack of inclusion of the HotSpot WiFi access points, and very limited 3G network and devices they really are not much of a compelling carrier in terms of those with smartphones or Sidekick devices. I do still rarely get dropped calls, I love their customer support, and I love their US$10 unlimited T-Mobile HotSpot @Home service so I'll keep my family plan with them. However, I won't be so quick to renew my contract the next time.