T-Mobile's big pitch: unlimited data, texting worldwide

T-Mobile's big pitch: unlimited data, texting worldwide

Summary: ...for no additional charge, that is.

TOPICS: Mobility, Telcos
T-Mobile USA chief executive John Legere. (Photo courtesy T-Mobile)

T-Mobile, the U.S. arm of Deutsche Telekom and the No. 4 wireless carrier in that country, announced last night a novel new plan that gives customers unlimited global data and texting "at no extra charge."

"Today's phones are designed to work around the world, but we're forced to pay insanely inflated international connectivity fees to actually use them," chief executive John Legere said. "You can't leave the country without coming home to bill shock."

Here's the thinking: Americans take about 55 million trips to destinations outside the U.S. each year. (About a third of all Americans carry a valid passport.) If U.S. customers use their phones abroad the way they normally do at home, their costs would run to $1,000 per day. So they don't: 40 percent of customers turn off data completely.

T-Mobile wants to crack this market, a mix of business and recreational travelers. Though the company is staking moral high ground on the issue—"The industry's been charging huge fees for data roaming, but what's most surprising is that no one's called them out," Legere said, feigning incredulity—it's really using it as a market differentiator compared to the Verizons and AT&Ts of the world. 

The new "Simple Choice" plans, which begin on October 31, involve the aforementioned unlimited data and texting as well as a "global flat rate" of 20 cents per minute for voice calls while roaming overseas. The new rates ($50 for one line, $80 for two, $100 for four) apply in 100 countries, from the U.K. to China.

Will it work? T-Mobile certainly has momentum in its corner. The carrier's bid to use its sizeable presence in the prepaid (a.k.a. no-contract) market to upgrade those customers to more conventional postpaid services—which are more lucrative—has resulted in growth numbers the company hasn't enjoyed for years.

Topics: Mobility, Telcos

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • I applaud TMO

    but I wish their US network was more extensive.
    • If you don't live in a big city

      they don't want your money. And that's why they will always be in 4th place.
  • sounds too god to be true

    that exposes the greed other companies practice: $1000/day use for roaming overseas data.
    Since TMobile also has free wifi phone calls, taking your cell phone overseas is a no brainer.
    LlNUX Geek
    • I ment too 'good'

      LlNUX Geek
    • I love the wifi calling capability.

      I travel to the mountains a lot where cell coverage is non existent. Nice that I can still keep in touch for emergencies.
  • t-mobile still battles for its existence

    The verve and fervor (maybe we should call it rage ?) displayed by t-mobile is a hint for an ongoing teetering on the brink of failure.

    t-mobile is well aware the fact that it takes just 2 disappointing years and it might turn into a seriously floundering company.

    Legere is meeting this looming nemesis with utmost activity and speed which in my opinion is the only strategy applicable in this case.

    Thumbs up.
  • top speed 128 kbps

    So yea big whoop it's unlimited.
    • Where have you been. or do you just have a 3g phone??

      I have the S4 on prepaid. Its a great service and the speed of their LTE coverage here in Fayetteville, NC is mostly at 10-16 Mbps and in some spots 20 or so. Much faster than what some jack ass must have told you. and all of those numbers go toe to toe with road runner basic package and is so much faster than DSL. And to the question below. from what i can tell the unlimited data is unlimited unless your sucking down bandwidth like a garbage disposal. i usually top out at 4 - 5 GB a month and no it hasn't slowed yet but for what i pay its amazingly affordable and no hidden fees. 70 is 70 not 70 is 86 or 90 it is what it is and i love it.
      Michael Marquez
  • Unlimited???

    Does unlimited data mean 2GB and then very slow speeds?
    Does it mean 5Gb, 1gb?