Leaked information provided to TmoNews suggests that T-Mobile may be introducing a new data plan for smartphone owners. The new plan would complement the current $30 unlimited offering and would allow T-Mobile customers the option of paying $10 a month for 250MB of data. The plan presumably targets new smartphone users that want to try out the latest and greatest handset without the steep monthly cost of an unlimited data plan. Unlike the $30 unlimited data plan which can not be removed when added to your contract-based plan, this $10/250MB plan allows users to upgrade to the $30 unlimited plan when their data usage begins to exceed 250MB. T-Mobile is expected to debut this new plan in late November, just in time for the holiday shopping season.
If this is true, this new $10 plan from T-Mobile mirrors similar plans now offered by AT&T. With the launch of the iPhone 4, AT&T introduced new tiered data plans that include a $15/200MB DataPlus plan and a $25/2GB DataPro plan. Unlike T-Mobile, AT&T did away with its unlimited offering when it transitioned to these new plans. Verizon Wireless still offers a single unlimited data plan for its smartphones but is rumored to be considering tiered data plans in the future. The carrier recently introduced tiered data plans when it announced that it would carry the iPad later this month. These iPad-only plans include a $20/1GB plan, $30/3GB plan, and a $50/5GB plan. Sprint has not introduced any tiered data plans but that option is still on the table.
These new tiered plans are marketed as a way to allows users to experience the joy of owning a smartphone without paying an arm and leg for data. Unfortunately, most of these plans are woefully inadequate when it comes to data allotment and most users who sign up for them will quickly exceed their data limit. This overage can be costly and defeats the purpose of these low-cost plans. Of course, there will be a handful of users that rely on WiFi and not 3G for their data and will appreciate these low-cost options. The majority of smartphone owners, though, should plan on paying $30+ a month for data until carriers become less stingy with their plans and begin offering reasonable plans that include 1-2GB data for a sub-$20 price. Pigs are supposed to start flying next week so maybe these generous data plans are right around the corner.