Laying down the mobile gauntlet

Another week, another rant-infused blog from T-Mobile CEO, John Legere, who this time has a bone to pick with his competitors’ so-called ‘family’ plans.

On the heels of U.S. operators Sprint and AT&T revamping their pricing for multi-line plans, T-Mobile has declared them – and Verizon – to be too expensive at $160 for 4 lines and has one upped them by offering the same deal for $100.

Of course this being T-Mobile, Legere wasn’t content to simply lower its rate and undercut the competition. In his blog, he blasted AT&T specifically for calling its plans the ‘best-ever pricing’ for families, a claim he calls a joke. His logic is that not only does AT&T charge $60 more per month for the same plan, but it also includes domestic overage charges, international roaming fees and device subsidy fees, all of which T-Mobile has eliminated in its quest to become the ‘Uncarrier.”

T-Mobile does seem to have created a plan that’s hard to refuse, but look closely at how the data portion gets allocated. Under similar plans from the three other major U.S. wireless carriers, all four lines share the 10GB data pool; under T-Mobile’s scheme each individual gets an equal share, or about 2.5GB. This means that the power user of the family may be in for a rude awakening toward the end of the month, while everyone else ends up with unused data, which as we all know doesn’t carry over from one billing period to the next.

However, with T-Mobile, users aren’t slapped with overages and instead get dropped down to slower speeds until their next billing cycle comes around.

This may sound too good to be true, and if you look closer it probably is. Customers – both new and existing – only have until September to sign up for the plan – and right now the carrier says the deal, including the 10GB of LTE data – will run only be valid until the end of 2015, after which the data allowance drops to 1GB per line.

So then what? T-Mobile may be part of Sprint well before that – there’s talk of a merger happening as early as September of this year – so what kind of wrench will that throw into this offer?

Maybe instead of getting on his high horse, Legere should focus on his own company’s practices, which recently have included accusations of cramming, and its perceived lack of network coverage compared to rival AT&T.

But these announcements give free publicity, as Legere well knows, and may help reduce churn just in time for the new iPhone to hit the market in a few months. Still, at the end of the day, consumers don’t need these barbs and insults in an already extremely confusing market. But that’s probably too much to ask for.

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Anita Karve
About Anita Karve 37 Articles
Anita is a writer and editor with 20 years of experience covering just about everything in the technology space with a focus on computer networking and telecommunications. She was managing editor of Billing & OSS World magazine and technology editor at Network magazine and most recently was in charge of newsletter coverage at TM Forum.

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