Washington regulators don't get the T-Mobile UnCarrier plans either

I was frankly shocked to read the news that Washington regulators forced T-Mobile to change their honest advertising because even they are brainwashed by the carrier subsidy model here in the US. Is there any hope for the consumer?
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on
WA State regulators don't get the T-Mobile UnCarrier plans either; is there hope for the consumer?
Image: Apple

Those of us who follow the smartphone world closely understand that T-Mobile's new UnCarrier plans are the most honest and fair for the consumer where you actually just pay for the device and lowest cost service. However, it seems even the Washington state Attorney General's office doesn't get it and has been brainwashed by the carrier subsidy model, according to TmoNews' report they made T-Mobile change some of their advertising and plan materials.

There are no service contracts, no stupid, unjustified $36 "upgrade" fees, or any other hidden costs. You pay full price for the phone up front, or you can pay part of the cost and finance the rest of the full price with no interest. If you want to leave or stop the service, you just pay the balance of the phone price and that's it. Simply, isn't it?

The Attorney General's office should be applauding T-Mobile for being the first fully-honest carrier, and should take a closer look at the eternal subsidy scam and unexplainable fees charged by other wireless carriers.

If you consider the subsidized phone price, the $350 ETF most carriers charge, the mysterious fees (such as the $36 upgrade fee), and higher monthly rate plans, then having to pay the remaining full price on the phone when you decide to leave T-Mobile is still the less expensive option. I will say this again, the T-Mobile HTC One is the best smartphone today with the best carrier value.

Let's look at a typical comparison if a consumer decides to leave a carrier after six months.

  • Typical subsidy model carrier: You pay $200 for a subsidized phone, subsidy premium of at least $20/month for 6 months ($120) rolled into your plan, $36 upgrade fee, and then $350 ETF (may get prorated down $5/month to $320). Total to leave is $676, with prorated ETF.

  • T-Mobile Simple Choice plan: You pay $99 up front, $20/month for 6 months for the phone cost, then pay the balance of $320 when you leave. Total cost is $579, which you can also just pay for up front, with no phone balance to pay and no contract keeping you with the carrier.

As you can see, T-Mobile is indeed the better deal, and you don't have to fight them to get a SIM unlock code. The cost to stay with a subsidized carrier can potentially cost you much more than T-Mobile if you don't use the subsidy because those carriers never reduce your monthly plan fees.

I understand that the $100+ difference shown here is not the biggest deal ever, but it frustrates me to see government agencies attacking an honest carrier, when the subsidy model with no end in sight is a much worse issue to address.

I guess, like in many areas in today's society, we now have to teach to the lowest common denominator, so that T-Mobile will have to spell out to customers that $600 to $800 phones do not really cost $100. Many of us have been trying to explain how subsidized phone plans work, but it looks like we all still have a long way to go.

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