Mobile

T-Mobile goes tablet crazy: Offers free 200MB monthly data, $0 down for all tablets (including iPad Air)

Above: The new iPad is super-skinny.

Image Credit: Dylan Tweney/VentureBeat
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T-Mobile’s “Uncarrier” schtick continues to break new ground.

Today T-Mobile announced that it will offer 200 megabytes of free monthly mobile data for all tablet owners for life, starting on November 1. And for a limited time, it will also offer all of its tablets for $0 down, including Apple’s new iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display.

Just like T-Mobile’s past moves towards killing mobile contracts and international roaming fees, today’s news adds some much-needed clarity to something that’s usually confusing (and expensive) on other carriers. Typically, you’d have to pay a premium for a tablet equipped with cellular access and lock yourself into a separate contract to get it online (unless you’re on a data sharing plan, but that’s complicated in its own right).

While T-Mobile is focusing specifically on Apple’s new iPads with the free data announcement, the deal applies to anyone with a tablet compatible with its 3G or 4G LTE network. (If you have a tablet from AT&T, for example, you could easily move over). Like T-Mobile’s $0 down offering for smartphones, the carrier isn’t revealing when the offer will disappear.

The iPad Air will cost $26.25 a month on T-Mobile for the 16 gigabyte model, while the iPad Mini with Retina will run you $22 a month. Other tablets will go for much less — Google’s Nexus 7, for example, is just $16 a month. While another monthly fee is a hassle, the lack of a down payment could make a tablet on T-Mobile a smart choice for plenty of buyers. (I recently moved from AT&T to T-Mobile, and even though I’d never consider a cellular-enabled tablet on another carrier, I’m definitely interested in what T-Mobile is offering.)

On a conference call today, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said the company won’t charge overages for anyone who goes over the 200MB of free data. Your data access will simply stop. T-Mobile will also offer a variety of other options for people who need more data: $10 a month gets you unlimited data (at a slower speed) once you use up 200MB of LTE 4G, and you can add 2 more gigabytes of LTE data every month for an additional $10.

For people who only occasionally need more monthly data, you can pay $5 for a day pass with 500MB of LTE, and $10 for a weekly pass with 1GB of LTE. Both of those offerings also grant you slower unlimited data once you use up your LTE bandwidth.

“These Uncarrier moves … we try and design them to be things even we can’t believe were doing,” Legere said. “This is one of those.”

More information:

T-Mobile USA, Inc. is the U.S. wireless operation of Deutsche Telekom AG. By the end of the first quarter of 2012, approximately 129 million mobile customers were served by the mobile communication segments of the Deutsche Telekom grou... read more »

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